Roddy Graham's Blog: 27 August 2008 - Priced to slow down
27 August 2008
Last week I stated, as I have done many times before, that the best congestion management policy is to hit the driver where it hurts, directly in the pocket, at the pumps.
Well it looks as if my argument has been vindicated with the publication of another report showing that traffic levels have dropped for the first time since traffic congestion was measured.
Last week, the Department for Transport published an official report showing a 0.5% drop in traffic levels in the first six months.
According to the most recent Trafficmaster/RAC Foundation Journey Time Index, for the first time in four years since its compilation, we have seen a decline in traffic levels with congestion falling by 12% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2007 on 34 motorways and trunk roads in Britain. The northern section of the M25 saw the biggest decline, by a massive 26%!
Experts put the drop down to the credit crunch, rising cost of fuel and road tax. Well the credit crunch is hitting most people, road tax bills come round only every six or twelve months, so the fact that fewer cars are being used on our roads today has to be predominantly down to the high cost of fuel. As we all know that has risen significantly, hovering around £1.20 per litre for petrol and 20 pence more for diesel. This is supported by the RAC Foundation, one of the co-sponsors of the report, which attributes the presence of fewer cars on the UK's roads to "the price of fuel making it too expensive for people to drive".
The journey time index was calculated based on submissions from 7500 traffic cameras around Britain's major motorways and trunk roads to Trafficmaster's central computer, when traffic speed dropped below 20mph. While the average speed of traffic in the first six months dropped slightly from 63.3mph to 62.2mph, probably in no small part due to judicious use of the right foot, journey times improved by 0.3%.
My recent personal experiences, as highlighted last week, that more drivers seem to be driving well below the speed limit in force, possibly in an effort to save on fuel seems to be in part borne out by the above figures.
One of the findings of the report was that people are driving slower on motorways to save fuel and make their tank-full go further. Drivers are also questioning the necessity of certain journeys in an effort to make a tank-full go further.
All we can hope for is that when we do come out of our tough economic woes in a few years time that we have learned our lessons and continue to use our personal forms of transport in a wholly greener manner.