Rush hour is officially back with a vengeance. According to new figures, traffic is now at pre-lockdown levels…
The Rush Hour Is Back
There are few positives when it comes to viral pandemics, and the coronavirus is no different. Unless, of course, you benefitted from traffic levels not seen since the 1950s. In April, May and parts of June large swatches of Britain’s road networks were effectively deserted. Now, however, traffic is back at pre-lockdown levels according to new figures. RAC black box data has shown that there’s been a significant increase in traffic, especially between 8am and 9am. Average weekday traffic in September is also identical to that in January. However, the numbers have shown that most of the increase stems from parents taking their children to school – not from people returning to work.
The RAC itself has reported that call-out levels have also return to normal; with only mid-week calls being slightly below pre-lockdown levels. A good indication that, for British drivers, it’s businesses as usual as tyres go flat, batteries die and engines throw tantrums.
Rod Dennis, a spokesman for RAC Insurance, said the return of the rush hour is all about schools. He explained, “while schools reopening was always going to lead to a rise in vehicle traffic, the fact that between a fifth and a third of the UK workforce is still working remotely shows just what role the school drop-off plays in creating the phenomenon we know as the morning ‘rush hour’”. He added, “in short, it appears dropping off children at schools and nurseries contributes far more to morning traffic in the 8am to 9am window than commuters heading to workplaces does, which is a surprising finding in itself”.
Will It Last?
Of course, the return of the nation’s rush hour doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be around indefinitely. Recently, the Prime Minister announced that the country is officially in the grip of a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic. Moreover, Michael Gove has announced that the government’s advice will be for people to work, once again, from home; assuming that they’re able to do so. Even if rising traffic is largely due to schools reopening, a lack of commuters (especially as public transport is still being avoided) will have an impact.
Dennis said, “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”.
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