Virus drives South Tyne road traffic to 30-year low

Pandemic lockdown measures saw the number of miles covered by cars in South Tyneside plummet by nearly a quarter last year, new figures show.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 1:35 pm
Virus measure drive down car use

Data from the Department for Transport show 2020 saw the fewest miles driven on the area's roads by motorists since 1993, when records began.

The figures show cars and taxis covered an estimated 333 million miles on South Tyneside's roads during 2020 – 23% fewer than in 2019.

Nationally, the number of car miles was down 25% but early indications from the Government show traffic could return to 2019 levels as lockdown is eased.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Nicholas Lyes, head of policy at the RAC, said: “With traffic now creeping back up to near-normal levels and restrictions due to ease further, we expect it to be a busy summer on the roads.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK – which represents the bus and coach industry - says it hopes people do not return to their cars.

Alison Edwards, head of policy at the group, said: "Public transport must not be left behind other areas of the economy in the ongoing social distancing review and ministers should encourage people back onto buses and coaches.

“Without this we will see greater congestion slowing our economic recovery along with worsening air quality and increased carbon emissions.”

The DfT said the fall in the number of miles driven had coincided with fewer accidents and faster journey times on major roads and work is being done with transport operators to ensure “good levels of service” as the pandemic eases.