Busier roads point to stronger economy

November 16, 2009 | By | In Statistics

Traffic levels on some UK roads have picked up, suggesting economic revival. But it's patchy The UK’s roads are getting busier. That’s rotten news if you’ve spent the morning stuck in a tail back. But, after a year when the roads have been consistently quieter, it also suggests that the UK’s economy could be perking up.

A new report from the Automobile Association and Trafficmaster says that road congestion has increased by 11% since the end of September, compared to a year ago. But figures are very uneven across the country. The biggest rises have affected the western M25 (up by 50%), the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge, which has seen a 45% increase, and the M6 in Staffordshire, which had 32% more traffic. But elsewhere there has been little change and some major routes are quieter, notably the M62/621 in West Yorkshire, which saw a fall in traffic of 11% Trafficmaster pointed out that the UK was in the depths of recession a year ago.

So while the latest figures are encouraging, they should be taken in context. Congestion appears worst on Mondays and Fridays and this, taken with the unseasonably warm weather over the period, suggests that some of the changes could be down to holiday traffic. And routes which are known to carry a lot of lorries and good traffic, such as the M62 and the southern stretch of the M1, are still relatively quiet.

The AA said that while it didn’t welcome road congestion, it did welcome the indication that the economy was picking up. The organisation said its message to government remained consistent: that we need to continue investing in our roads network as a way of boosting economic activity.

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