Figures reveal growing delays on local 'A' roads in Luton last year

The RAC blamed the problem on too many roadworks
Early morning road congestion. Picture: Dave Thompson/PAEarly morning road congestion. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA
Early morning road congestion. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA

Drivers in Luton experienced growing delays on local 'A' roads last year, new figures show.

It comes as motorists across England encountered more congestion than ever on the strategic road network, which includes local and major 'A' roads and motorways.

Department for Transport figures show drivers travelling on local 'A' roads in Luton were delayed by one minute and five seconds per mile on average when compared to the pace they would have made if driving at the speed limit in free-flowing conditions.

This was up from one minute and two seconds per mile the year before.

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic which saw traffic levels plummet, the average delay for motorists in the area was one minute and seven seconds per mile. The A5228 saw the greatest delays in Luton at one minute and 44 seconds per mile.

The figures cover only 'A' roads, which account for around 10 per cent of England's highway network but carry around a third of all traffic.

Meanwhile, factoring in motorways and major 'A' roads, drivers across the country were delayed by a record 11 seconds per mile.

Speeds were measured using samples of vehicles recorded at different times of the day.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: "It’s very concerning to see delays on our most important roads increasing to above pre-pandemic levels and average speeds are dropping.

"Given today’s disappointing findings, it’s more important than ever that National Highways, which is responsible for the strategic road network, is given sufficient funds in the next five-year road investment settlement to tackle these issues head-on."

The data also shows the average speed drivers travelled along local 'A' roads, with the national average falling to 23 miles per hour last year, the lowest figure since before the pandemic. In Luton, motorists averaged 19 mph – down from 19.1 in 2019.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "This Government backs drivers, which is why we’re getting on with our plan to invest over £24 billion into our roads to reduce congestion, improve road safety and grow the economy.

"As well as investing more into new and improved roads, we have a plan for drivers to slam the brakes on anti-driver measures and help keep our country moving."