Could a cultural change make the roads less crowded?

Written by Ellie

Fleet drivers all over Britain will be familiar with many places – particularly in major cities – where congestion is the bane of their working lives. But could that be about to change?

A BBC investigation into the attitudes of young people has indicated a growing desire to either live without a car or only use it sparingly. Such a trend could, if it continues, mean the long-term trend for the number of cars on the roads to increase going into reverse before too long.

Data from the Commission on Travel Demand (CTD) found that in 1990, 80 per cent of people were driving by the age of 30. Now, this figure is only reached by the age of 45, while men aged under 30 only travel half as far by car as their fathers did.

Moreover, while car usage grew by 50 per cent in the 1980s, it was up by just two per cent in the decade leading to 2016.

This contrasts with the government’s own forecasts that traffic will grow between 20 and 60 per cent by 2040.

CTD chair Greg Marsden said: “We need root and branch reform of traffic forecasting.

“Forecasts of future demand for future road use are highly debatable because they appear to be based on the sort of traffic growth we saw in the 1990s. We don’t have those levels of traffic growth any more.

“Many young people are happy to live their lives without a car – especially in big cities where public transport is good.”

These projections have significant implications for transport spending. If traffic is expected to increase, more money will go into building new roads. A fall, however, will prompt a shift of resources towards enhanced public transport.

Whatever transpires, if there are fewer cars on the roads that will mean less congestion, more roads or not. That should mean the future is much easier for those who do take to the roads, not least fleet drivers who can benefit from the situation every day.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, adds: “It remains to be seen if the slower rate at which traffic is increasing will become a decline in real terms. The government should be wary of cutting back on road-building schemes unless and until it sees real evidence of a fall in car usage.”

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Image: iStock/grThirteen

Posted on 19th July 2018

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