Roads data suggests rush hour return

Roads data suggests rush hour return

Looking at average weekday traffic between Monday, September 7, and Wednesday, September 16, between these hours there were the same number of cars being driven as on a weekday in January.

Car volumes up more than 55% compared to August

Car volumes during these times were also up 55% compared to the period before most schools had returned (week beginning August 24).

The figures appear to show that the UK’s morning rush hour is caused more by people dropping children off at schools and nurseries than it is by commuters heading to places of work, given that many people are still working from home.

The fact that many schools are operating staggered drop-off times in light of the coronavirus may also be having the effect of extending the rush hour as well as changing the morning routine for some families.

At the other end of the day, car volumes are now at around the same level between the end of school ‘rush’ of 3pm and 4pm and evening ‘rush’ of between and 5pm and 6pm as was the case before the first coronavirus lockdown in March, suggests the RAC data.

Reliance on the car as transport mode of choice has increased

RAC Insurance spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “What’s abundantly apparent is how dependent parents are on the car for getting children to their places of study or play during the week – and with fewer people prepared to take public transport at the moment, the reliance on the car as the transport mode of choice has increased.

“Workers that used to drop children off and then carry on to offices or other workplaces are clearly still using their cars for these trips, but just returning home again instead.

“It may also be the case that many are opting for the car so they can be back at their desks to start work as promptly as possible.

“The staggered ‘drop-off windows’ introduced by many schools as a result of the pandemic to cope with large movements of children may be another reason for the rise.”

Figures show ‘return to normal’

Daily RAC breakdown figures also show a ‘return to normal’, with mid-week call-outs in particular only a little below those seen during the first few winter months of the year.

Dennis continued: “The million-dollar question, of course, is what happens next and whether morning road traffic continues to rise in the autumn, or whether it stays at the sort of level we’re seeing now.

“The rising number of coronavirus cases, together with the introduction of local lockdowns and the threat of new nationwide restrictions, may also have an impact on people’s willingness to return to public transport.

“But while there is a huge number of possible scenarios that have the potential to change our travel habits, what does appear clear is that millions of us will continue to rely on the car for completing the journeys we have to make.”

As published on 21/09/2020 in Fleet industry news


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