Driving conditions and trends affecting car insurance - By: Michael Challiner

This article is based on National UK Statistics Road Traffic, the Free Flow Vehicle Speeds and Road Congestion in Great Britain during 2007. These statistics are studied by the underwriters of car insurance at the UK’s largest insurance companies.
Road Traffic in Great Britain
• It is estimated that total traffic rose by 5.5 billion vehicle kilometres (1.1 per cent) to 513 billion kilometres between 2006 and 2007. This is a 14 per cent increase over the last 10 years.

• 79 per cent of all motor vehicle traffic relates to cars. In 2007, car traffic totalled 404 billion kilometres. This is a 0.4 per cent increase from 2006, and is up by 11 per cent over the last 10 years.

• Light van traffic is still growing faster than overall traffic. This continues a trend that began in 2000. In 2007, light van traffic was 68.2 billion kilometres, a 4.6 per cent rise from 2006, and a 40 per cent rise over the last 10 years.

• Heavy goods vehicle traffic was estimated to be 29.4 billion kilometres in 2007. This was an increase of 0.8 per cent from 2006 and 9.4 per cent over the last 10 years.

• During 2007, 86% of Great Britain motor vehicle traffic occurred in England. Scotland accounted for 9% and Wales 6%.

• Foreign registered vehicles accounted for approximately 1 kilometre in every 215 kilometres driven in 2007.

• 'A' roads and Motorways and account for 12% and 1% respectively of the road length in Great Britain. In contrast, 44 per cent of traffic was on 'A' roads and 20% on motorways.

• It is estimated that in 2007 there are 345 thousand kilometres of minor roads (i.e. 'B', 'C' and unclassified) in Great Britain. This amounted to 87% of the total national road length. These roads carried 37% of all traffic.
Vehicle Speeds in Great Britain
• In the last 10 years, the percentage of vehicles exceeding the 30 mph speed limit in free flow conditions fell for every type of vehicle. Cars had the most significant decrease... ten years ago, 70% of cars were driven at speeds exceeding the set limits; by 2007, this had dropped to less than 50%
• On Motorways, 54% of cars exceeded the 70 mph speed limit. But, 18% of cars were being driven at 80 mph or over.

• Happily on Motorways, very few heavy goods vehicles exceeded their 60 mph speed limit. However, over 82% exceeded the 50 mph speed limit on dual carriageway non-built-up roads. Nearly 3 out of 4 exceeded the 40 mph limit on single carriageway non-built-up roads.

• More than 50% of all motorbikes were driven faster than the 30 mph speed limit in built-up areas. Of these, nearly 25% of the total exceeded the speed limit by 5 mph or more.
Congestion and Traffic Speeds on the English Inter-Urban Road Network.
On the English Strategic Road Network:
• Over the last 2 years, the average traffic speed over the whole network fell by 0.8% from 55.4 mph to 55.0 mph. The average speed for the weekday evening peak fell by 1.4% and motorway speeds fell by 1.8%. On dual carriageway 'A' roads speeds rose by 1.2 per cent.
Congestion in English Built-up Areas
• The average peak morning speeds on key routes in the 10 biggest built-up areas vary considerably from route to route and area to area. 5% of routes achieved average speeds in excess of 30 mph, and 38% had average speeds of 15 mph or lower.

• As expected, traffic slows down on these key routes at the beginning of the morning peak (which in most areas is between 6.30 and 6.45 am), and by about 9.30 am returns to daytime average speeds.


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This article contains a wide range of statistics which paint a picture of driving conditions in the UK in 2007.

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