According to a new report from TomTom, traffic congestion on UK roads fell an average of 24 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
The traffic impact review of the Covid-19 pandemic was conducted by the location technology specialist and shows the effects of closures and restrictions in 57 countries and 400 cities – including 25 in the UK.
The data shows that average rush hour congestion has decreased by more than a third over the year – with morning rush hour traffic declining the most during the initial closure, and falling a massive 78 percent in April alone.
The table below shows 12 months of congestion in 25 UK cities last year versus the same period in 2019 to illustrate the sharp drop from the end of March. Slide the bar over the beam to see the difference in traffic. If you read this story in the MailOnline app and can’t see the interactive table below, Click this link to view the page on our website.
The UK’s deserted roads: Traffic fell by an average of 25% over the past year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, TomTom says. Pictured: the A64 motorway near York shortly after the first lockdown measures in March
Additional analysis by the RAC has confirmed suspicions that car use by drivers in the current and third national lockdown has not declined to the same extent as it did with the first coronavirus restrictions last March.
In the first week of the last lockdown, data from RAC Black Box Insurance customers showed that an average of 10 percent more cars were in daily use than in the first week of the lockdown in March, resulting in 31 percent more daily miles driven.
This corresponds to a reduction in car consumption of 22 percent compared to the normal value, with the first week of February 2020 being used as a comparison.
The RAC assumes that the volume of traffic is now at a similar level as in mid-May. Interestingly, the point restrictions were initially relaxed and people were encouraged to return to work if they could not work from home.
Automotive Group spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘Despite the UK as a whole currently under another coronavirus lockdown, our data shows that the number of cars in use has not decreased to the same extent as it did when restrictions were first introduced the case was last March.
“The feeling of this recent statewide lockdown is very different from what was first imposed in 2020 as more people work in ‘Covid-safe’ workplaces, more stores offer click-and-collect services and more children of key workers attend schools .
‘With so many avoiding public transport, far more will inevitably choose the safer environment around the car. Together, these differences help explain the busier roads. ‘
The ten most polluted cities in the UK last year. They all saw a significant drop in overall traffic levels during the pandemic
Edinburgh’s most congested British city ahead of London last year
Edinburgh was the UK’s most congested city in 2020. Due to congestion, journeys were extended by 32 percent, less than in the previous year by 41 percent.
London came in second with 31 percent, followed by Brighton and Hull with 28 percent and Belfast with 26 percent.
The capital saw traffic congestion decrease by seven percent and was the 49th most polluted city in TomTom’s study of 400 worldwide.
TomTom’s reflective study found that after a “normal” start to 2020 and congestion in line with 2019, traffic fell in mid-March when the first national lockdown was declared.
The traffic did not begin to recover until May.
And the data shows that subsequent closures in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had less of an impact on traffic, even though there were still far fewer engines on the road when the tougher restrictions closed by the end of the year.
The day before the first national lockdown (March 22), the highest congestion rates were in Edinburgh (14 percent), Brighton and Hove (12 percent) and Reading (10 percent).
In contrast, London (58 percent), Brighton and Hove (52 percent) and Hull (47 percent) saw their congestion rates spike the day before the second lockdown (November 4) as the crowds left the big cities or rushed to the stores for last minute deliveries.
In addition, data from the TomTom Traffic Index shows that the pandemic and widespread remote working have flattened traffic during rush hour.
This graph shows the difference in traffic jams between 2020 and 2019 compared to the previous year, with the table color quickly changing from red to blue at the end of March
Overall, the UK saw an astonishing average decrease in traffic congestion of an astonishing 35 percent during rush hour.
Traffic jams during rush hour were almost non-existent when the roads were quietest in April, and while the original peak hours slowly returned as the year progressed, travel patterns remained much flatter than throughout 2019.
While the interactive chart at the top of this page – which shows the difference in congestion levels in 25 major cities in 2020 compared to 2019 – is a clear indication of the magnitude of the decreased traffic, the data suggests that congestion levels in the UK may be returning to their pre-crisis level – even if the current third national lockdown is enforced.
However, whether they fully recover, “depends largely on government action and the lack of broader social changes caused and persistent by the pandemic – mostly remote working -” the report said.
Pictured: Skipton, North Yorkshire, May 11, 2020: Warning signs were posted on the roadsides earlier this year asking if drivers’ journeys were essential during the coronavirus pandemic
Rush hour, once the bane of drivers and traffic planners, disappeared almost overnight as clerks set up their home offices
Stephanie Leonard, TomTom’s Director of Transport Innovation and Policy, said: “Earlier last year we announced that traffic congestion in the UK was increasing and the country was going in the wrong direction, but in March 2020 everything changed.
‘There has been a massive drop in traffic in the UK due to the global pandemic.
“From closures to closed borders, the movement of people has changed – and it has changed very quickly.
“Rush hour, once the bane of drivers and traffic planners, disappeared almost overnight as clerks set up their home offices.”
TomTom’s data suggests that congestion levels in the UK may return to pre-crisis levels – even if the current third national lockdown is enforced
The return to pre-pandemic congestion “depends largely on government action and the lack of broader social changes brought about by the pandemic – mostly remote working – which remain permanent,” the year-end report said
She added that motorists “shouldn’t expect the UK’s roads to remain quiet forever” and continued, “As Covid-19 vaccines continue to be manufactured and industrialized, traffic may rise again – if people go back to work and return. ” old routines.
“Unless there is a concerted and deliberate change in driver behavior, supported by policy makers and employers, the rush hour is unlikely to end forever.
“So we need action from UK city planners, policymakers, employers and drivers to ensure flexible hours, work from home and a smart approach to using traffic data to determine the best times to travel.”
TomTom’s analysis found that congestion rates fell on average in 387 of the cities surveyed around the world.
This means that traffic has increased in 13 cities in seven countries.
These included: Wollongong (1 percent higher) Australia;; Leuven (1 percent higher) Belgium;; Changchung (4 percent higher), Chongquing (1 percent higher) China;; Tauranga (1 percent higher) New Zealand;; Taichung (1 percent higher), Tainan (1 percent higher), Taipei (2 percent higher), Taoyuan (4 percent higher) Taiwan;; Adana (1 percent higher), Gaziantep (1 percent higher), Izmir (1 percent higher) Turkey;; Dnipro, Ukraine (1 percent higher).
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