Morning rush hour back to ‘normal’, stats show

RAC patrols called out to more rush-hour breakdowns than expected following return to school

The morning rush hour, a phenomenon last seen nearly six months ago, has returned with traffic levels back to levels seen in January, analysis by RAC Insurance has revealed.

Data from drivers with RAC black box devices fitted shows that the beginning of the school year in England has led to a marked rise in cars on the road, particularly at what appears to be the peak drop-off time of between 8am and 9am.

Looking at average weekday traffic between Monday 7 September and Wednesday 16 September, between these hours there were the same number of cars being driven as on a weekday in January.

Car volumes during these times were also up 55 per cent compared to the period before most schools had returned.

Car volumes are now at around the same level between the end of school ‘rush’ of 3pm and 4pm and evening ‘rush’ of between and 5pm and 6pm as was the case before the first coronavirus lockdown in March.

Daily RAC breakdown figures also show a ‘return to normal’, with mid-week call-outs in particular only a little below those seen during the first few winter months of the year.

However, since the schools returned RAC patrols have on average been called out to more rush-hour breakdowns than expected with this being balanced out by fewer later in the day.

RAC Insurance spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The million-dollar question, of course, is what happens next and whether morning road traffic continues to rise in the autumn, or whether it stays at the sort of level we’re seeing now.

“The rising number of coronavirus cases, together with the introduction of local lockdowns and the threat of new nationwide restrictions, may also have an impact on people’s willingness to return to public transport.

“But while there is a huge number of possible scenarios that have the potential to change our travel habits, what does appear clear is that millions of us will continue to rely on the car for completing the journeys we have to make.”

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