There will be at least four million more cars on the UK’s roads in the next twenty-five years as the population grows by more than ten million.
The jump in people and cars will be accompanied by surges in traffic volume and delays on the UK’s roads, which are already the most heavily used in Europe.
But the RAC Foundation said that in the face of this scenario the government has significantly reduced road transport investment because of the recession and ministers have not explained what plans they have to cope with the bleak picture painted by their own numbers.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Forget about Plan B, ministers do not even have a Plan A for dealing with the awful conditions forecast for the roads in the years ahead. It is a case of jams today, and even more jams tomorrow.
“The Department for Transport’s own figures show that by 2035 traffic is set to rise by almost 50% and delays by more than 50%. And these are only average figures. In some places, at some times of the day, the jams will be many times worse.
“The impact will be immense, not just on car drivers but also businesses trying to move their goods about.
“There needs to be a fundamental look at how the strategic and main roads are planned, developed, funded, operated and maintained; how the traffic that uses the road network is managed; and how that use is paid for.
“In the meantime there are scores of relatively small scale road improvement schemes which could be implemented as part of the growth agenda. They would deliver big benefits to significant numbers of people and businesses.
“We are not advocating a massive road building programme – we know we cannot build our way out of the nation’s forecast traffic problems, nor would we want to afford to. But what we do need from government is a clear long-term strategy. The Government’s own forecasts just cannot be ignored.”