The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has revealed the serious issue of congestion in the UK appears to be getting worse, rather than better, at present.
Results of the organisation's latest Quarterly Transport Activity Survey (QTAS) showed professional drivers up and down the country are now finding it more difficult to carry out journeys in an on-time manner, with 55 per cent of respondents to the research stating they witnessed an increase in delays during the final three months of 2014.
This is the highest figure reported by the survey in more than ten years and therefore the FTA believes strong action now needs to be taken to address serious and ongoing issues surrounding the reliability of the UK's transport network.
"Reliability on the UK road network is crucial for road freight operators. The freight and logistics industry needs road infrastructure that it can rely on to ensure that products are moved efficiently and at reasonable cost," FTA director policy Karen Dee stated.
"As the economy grows there will be increasing demands which will mean more pressure to deliver and more vehicles on the roads – so it is only going to get worse."
Bottlenecks have been a serious issue facing UK road transport for several years and the government has already taken strong steps to address many major problem areas through its ongoing £317 million Pinch-Point Programme.
The scheme aims to deliver a boost to local economies through the streamlining of important transport links, removing areas of considerable congestion that are built up as a result of poor junction planning and limitations on traffic flow.
Moreover, the chancellor George Osborne announced in December the creation of the government's new Roads Investment Strategy, which aims to deliver a £15 billion influx of investment for UK transport network improvements over the next five years.
At the time of its announcement, the FTA stated its belief that "it can only be good news for all road users".
Indeed, the government has pledged to deliver an additional 1,300 lane miles of usable carriageway across the nation's transport network by the end of the decade and will also be examining potential measures to fix some of the most longstanding and notorious blackspots for congestion over this period also.
Set to come into force from April 1st, the new government-owned body Highways England is preparing to take over responsibilities for future transport network development planning and oversight from the Highways Agency. Its aim will be to provide not only a better deal for taxpayers in the years ahead, but also to speed up the delivery of improvements and ensure the nation's roads are fit to meet the needs of 21st century travellers.
A total of 127 projects will be covered under the Roads Investment Strategy framework – 84 of which are wholly new.
During the next five years, 63 projects to deliver key junctions traffic flow improvements will be carried out (comprising of multiple junctions at a single site in many instances), while 29 smart motorways projects have been earmarked to help better manage traffic flows on major routes up and down the country.
The largest single scheme to be completed by the end of the decade will be the £1.5 billion A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge upgrade, while the work delivered by Highways England will also aim to inform future developments in the years ahead, with a total of 20 feasibility studies already announced.
Harking back to the results of the FTA's latest QTAS publication, other key findings of the research besides the rise in reported levels of congestion included ongoing concerns raised regarding the nation's shortage of professional drivers, as well as continuing improvements in the number of insolvencies reported across the UK's freight and transport industry.
During the last quarter of 2014, the number of business failures was shown to have fallen to pre-recession levels and is now at a rate that is 60 per cent lower than at the peak of the economic downturn.
Finally, growth in professional driving activity is expected to be witnessed across all regions in the coming months, with returning economic prosperity for the UK as a whole forecast to drive an upturn in performance and the need for professional driving services in 2015.
The results of the survey were based upon the responses of more than 100 of the UK's largest logistics operators, with the QTAS understood to be a representative snapshot of attitudes across the UK freight and fleet management sectors.
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This story was posted by MileageCount, the mileage capture and fleet management experts. Every Mile Counts.