Motor vehicle traffic fell in 2009 for the second consecutive year – the first time this has happened since records began in 1949.

Last year, the overall motor vehicle traffic volume in Great Britain was 313.2 billion vehicle miles, down by 1% or 3 billion vehicle miles from last year. However, traffic levels in 2009 were 7.9% higher than in 1999.

Car traffic was 249 billion vehicle miles in 2009, making up 79.5% of all motor vehicle traffic. In 2009 car traffic was 0.3% lower than in 2008, but 6.2% higher than 1999.

Light van traffic fell by 2.2% to 41.4 billion vehicle miles – this was 29.1% higher than 1999.

In 2009, heavy goods vehicle traffic was 16.4 billion vehicle miles, down 1.5 billion vehicle miles from 2008, an 8.2% fall which left overall heavy goods vehicle traffic levels lower than 1999 (by 6.3 per cent).

A fifth of traffic last year was on motorways, 28% on rural A roads, 16% on urban A roads, 14% on rural minor roads and 22% on urban minor roads.

The total length of road in Great Britain in 2009 was estimated to be 245.1 thousand miles. Minor roads made up 87.2% of total road lengths, with motorways and A roads accounting for 0.9% and 11.9% respectively.

Around 1 in every 255 vehicle miles, or 0.39% of all motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain was driven by foreign registered vehicles.

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