The UK’s driving habits have become a “moving feast” post-Covid, said Waze UK’s managing director Ru Roberts.
According to the satellite navigation software, following the easing of restrictions and the UK Governmen’t strategy for living with Covid, traffic numbers have exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re now in excess of number of cars on the road,” Roberts told City A.M. “Over the last two bank holiday weekends, we have had an increase of 47 per cent in driven miles on Waze compared to the pre-Covid levels.”
The managing director’s comments were corroborated by data recently released by the RAC, which estimated that 19.5 million travels were planned for the Bank Holiday weekend.
While congestion has mainly converged on the main arteries in and out of London – such as the M25, M4, A303 and M5 – hour-long queues have also been reported at major transport hubs such as the port of Dover.
Last week, hundreds of people going to France for half-term or to see the Champions League final in Paris complained about being stuck in bottlenecks due to security delays.
“This Jubilee weekend will obviously hit London, but it’s also the weekend when everyone is returning from half-term holidays,” he added.
Despite an overall increase in number and length of drives, people are continuously adapting to the wider macroeconomic context, from the pandemic’s impact on commuting to the current surge in fuel prices.
Roberts explained that commuter drives are still behind 2019 levels, while people drive more for leisure, travel and local chores.
Waze figures reported that Tuesday to Thursday has a higher average in miles driven, as “lots of businesses are potentially home working or three days a week in the office and two days at home.”
Motorists’ habits have also changed significantly following the Ukraine war-induced surge in fuel prices, with petrol hitting a new high at 172.73p while diesel surging to 182.59p per litre.
The hike in fuel prices has led to a 26 per cent decrease in traffic, as drivers try to make the most out of their fuel tanks, Waze data highlighted.
“It’s limiting, people trying to cut down on the amount they’re having to spend,” the manager explained. “Because it’s not just fuel, it’s all consumer spending.”
But for the time being, people will continue to rely on cars as they feel more confident and comfortable compared with public transport.
“That may change again but at the moment we’ve definitely seen the car being the mode of transport that people are most confident in,” Roberts concluded.