Now that we’ve started making graphs, we just can’t stop! The one above uses recent data to show the number of miles travelled by vehicles in Britain over the past twenty years. You’ll notice that the line is currently on the up: 314.6 billion miles were covered in the year to June 2015. This isn’t just higher than the 314.3 billion total for September 2007, it’s also the highest on record. We’re collectively driving further than ever.
The other thing that stands out from the graph is the dip between 2007 and now. The cause? The recession, naturally. As the economy suffered, so did our activity on the roads. As the economy recovers, we’re returning to the tarmac en masse. This is exemplified by the rise in van traffic. According to the Department for Transport, it’s risen faster than any other vehicle traffic over the past year, by 6.3 per cent to 46.3 billion miles. White Van People are leading the way.
So, what’s to stop the line from keeping on rising? Another economic downturn wouldn’t help, of course. But there are other, more prosaic factors that could have an effect. For instance, fuel prices – particularly diesel – are currently quite low. Were they to rise again, then cars may be left languishing on driveways and in garages.
And then there are the great unknowables that hover above motoring’s future. What about the declining number of young people with driving licences? What about the rise of car sharing? What will driverless cars mean? Time will deliver answers. Until then, our driving habits are recovering with the economy.