The Friday before Christmas is one of the busiest days of the year for traffic, with drivers being warned to expect long delays. On a normal day, the average person in this country spends an hour a day travelling, with most of their journeys made by car. These charts tell the story of Britain’s roads.
1. The vast majority of our journeys are by car
Back in 1952, less than 30% of distance travelled in Britain was by car, van or taxi. 42% was by bus or coach, and 17% by train.
As people got richer and cars got cheaper, the picture changed rapidly.
By 1970, three-quarters of all passenger kilometres were by private vehicle. The proportion reached 85% in the late 1980s and has stayed roughly constant since then – as has the total distance driven each year.
Public policy encouraged driving in the post-war period, according to Richard Blyth of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
New suburbs were more spread out. The first motorway, Lancashire’s eight-mile Preston bypass, opened in 1958 and now forms part of the M6. Meanwhile less money was invested in public transport, especially buses, says Blyth.
Travel by bus and coach has been in long-term decline, accounting for just 4% of total distance travelled in 2016, a tenth of the figure of the early 1950s.