Organisation: Department for Transport (DfT)
Date of Publication: April 2021
Date Uploaded: 5 May 2021
This statistical release presents the 2020 annual estimates of traffic on Great Britain’s roads, including the period following the government’s announcement of measures to limit the impact and transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The release focusses on recent trends in traffic broken down by vehicle type, road category and geographic area.
Traffic statistics are mostly presented in units of vehicle miles, which combines the number of vehicles on the road and how far they drive.
Annual traffic statistics are compiled using data from around 8,000 roadside 12-hour manual counts, continuous data from automatic traffic counters, and data on road lengths.
The stats show that the number of miles cycled on Great Britain’s roads and cycle paths rose to its highest level for more than 50 years in 2020.
Pedal cycles travelled 5.0 billion miles last year, 45.7% further than in 2019,and the highest level of cycling on the public highway since the 1960s.
Cycling saw its highest monthly levels in 2020 during April and May, following lockdown measures legally coming into force on 23 March.
The stats for April and May 2020 were 73% and 75% higher than in the equivalent months in 2019, and cycling levels remained above the equivalent 2019 figures until October – when the Government says cycling levels are likely to be influenced by the weather.
As anticipated, the figures also show all motor vehicle types saw a decrease in traffic levels during 2020.
In total, 280.5 billion vehicle miles were driven on Great Britain’s roads in 2020, a decrease of 21.3% compared to the previous year.
Car and bus traffic were most heavily impacted, decreasing by 24.7% and 32.0% respectively. Although van and lorry traffic experienced a smaller fall in vehicle miles, they still saw decreases of 9.1% and 5.7%, respectively.
April 2020 – during the stay home period – was the month which saw the largest fall in traffic, 63% lower than April 2019.
As the restrictions started to ease, the monthly traffic levels increased gradually to September 2020, when they were 11% lower than September 2019.
Subsequent lockdowns and restrictions led to lower traffic levels in October-December when compared to the equivalent months in 2019.
Access the statistical bulletin via the GOV.UK website: