Motor vehicles travelled 499 billion kilometres in total on Great Britainís roads in 2004. This was eight times more than in 1952. There was almost continuous growth until 1973. Since then the trend has continued upward, but annual changes have been more erratic.
Just under 80 per cent of road traffic distance, including pedal cycles, was accounted for by cars and taxis in 2004. This compares with less than 40 per cent in 1952.
The number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain has also increased. In 1961 there were fewer than 9 million licensed vehicles. By 1981 there were 19.3 million, and by 2004, 32.3 million. Private cars accounted for an increasing proportion of this total, 59 per cent in 1961, 77 per cent in 1981, and 80 per cent in 2004.
The overall length of Great Britainís road network increased more slowly. Between 1962 and 2004 it grew by around a quarter to 387,700 kilometres.
The increase in the number of motor vehicles, and the greater distances travelled by individuals, has led to large increases in the average daily flow of motor vehicles. Between 1980 and 1990 average traffic flows rose by 43 per cent. Growth slowed in the 1990s, but daily traffic flows still increased by 17 per cent in the ten years to 2004.