Right now, movement in the UK is severely restricted. British citizens have been told to “only go outside for food or health reasons or travelling to and from work but only where you cannot work from home,” and as such, that’s had a dramatic effect on traffic levels.
Following the announcement of the measures on 23 March - intended to curtail the spread of Covid-19 - UK motor vehicle traffic plummeted by 73 per cent compared to the same time in February, according to Department for Transport figures.
As reported by The Guardian, these kinds of traffic levels haven’t been seen since 1955. And remember, the road network was a lot smaller then, with the first motorway not built until 1958. As a consequence, the UK’s highways will seem deathly quiet in places.
It’s the same story across all modes of transport. Rail journeys, for instance, dropped by 90 per cent, while bus journeys in London are at just 17 per cent of the normal volume.
A week on from the announcement of the new restrictions - the contravention of which could land you with a £60 fine for the first offence - traffic did increase slightly. It was down a more modest 63 per cent compared to pre-lockdown levels.
Public Health England medical director Doctor Yvonne Doyle called the increase “concerning,” reiterating the government’s message for people to “stay at home”. We’ll update this piece with the latest traffic figures when available.
It’ll be interesting to see if the drastic lifestyle changes Coronavirus has forced upon us will have a longer-term impact on traffic. Many employees and firms will be finding that, in actual fact, sticking a load of people in an expensive office building five days a week isn’t always necessary.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a rise in remote working even when all this is over, with this unprecedented period of modern history proving to be a big home-working experiment for a lot of companies and employees. Such a change in working habits would mean fewer commutes and quieter roads for those who do actually need to get somewhere at rush hour, and less pollution. Sounds good, no?