Contact usFarnborough Office: 01483 397 888 | Gateshead Office: 0191 338 7220

COVID-19 & Provisional Road Traffic Estimates Great Britain for April 2019 to March 2020

May 22, 2020

Yesterday (21 May 2020) the Department for Transport (DfT) released its ‘Provisional Road Traffic Estimates Great Britain for April 2019 to March 2020’.  Initial analysis indicates the majority of the decrease in road traffic is linked to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the subsequent measures to implemented to mitigate transmission towards the end of March 2020.


Key Findings Compared to the year ending March 2019, in the year ending March 2020: 

Estimates were based on traffic data collected continuously from a network of around 300 automatic traffic counters throughout the UK, stratified by area, road type, and traffic flow levels and have been designed to be representative of national traffic.  The analysis of this data is to form the DfT’s Quarterly Road Traffic National Statistics series in order to estimate traffic change.

How has COVID-19 impacted the overall annual figures? It initially appears that without the impact of COVID-19 on vehicular travel, the figures for the year ending March 2020 would have maintained at 328.4 billion vehicle miles, a slight decrease of 0.3% from the previous year. The reduction in traffic levels was more evident for travel by car than for van and lorry.  This reduction can be explained by the measures introduced during March 2020, commencing with the advice against all non-essential travel on 17th March and finally resulted in lockdown on 23rd March, as shown below:

Changes in transport use (Great Britain)

Provisional data covering April through to June 2020 is due to be released in September 2020, and will undoubtedly show the wider impact of COVID-19 on road traffic.

Earlier this month, the Government announced a £2 billion package to promote alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling.  This funding will allow for the opening of emergency bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements for pedestrians, safer junctions for all, and cycle and bus-only corridors, in what is being deemed the largest ever boost for cyclists and pedestrians.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many of us travel using ‘our own steam’, at unprecedented levels. The Government’s plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when travelling, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to the increase in demand as we transition out of lockdown. Travel Plans are already an essential tool for improving and increasing sustainable travel in our communities and they will certainly be critical in ensuring we can facilitate appropriate measures, such as social distanced footpaths and cycle routes in order to combat the impact of COVID-19. 

Milestone Transport Planning will continue to keep a close eye on situation and remain available to discuss your transport and travel planning needs.  Contact us today on 01483 397888 or