New study sheds light on rush-hour traffic speed on Norfolk’s roads

Emergency crew attend the scene of a road traffic collision on the A146 near Thurton.

Emergency crew attend the scene of a road traffic collision on the A146 near Thurton. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Morning rush-hour speeds on Norfolk and Suffolk's council-managed A-roads have dropped to their slowest in eight years, according to new statistics.

A government study of speeds on locally-managed A-roads – which does not include the A47 or the bulk of the A11 in Norfolk – showed the average speed on A-roads in the 12 months leading up to June this year was 30.4mph.

That is the slowest average speed in the morning rush, defined as being from 7am until 10am on weekdays, since the Department for Transport records began in 2007. The highest average speed came in 2012, when an average of 31.9mph was hit.

In Suffolk, the average morning rush speed on locally-managed A-roads was even slower – just 29.6mph in the year up to June. The highest average speed recorded was 31mph in 2011 and 2012.

In Cambridgeshire, the average morning rush speed for the year to June was 29.3mph, down on the record 32.3mph in the 12 months leading to November 2009.

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But the East of England fared better than anywhere else in the country. At 28.6mph, it had the highest average weekday morning peak speed. The average morning rush hour speed on local A-roads in England in the 12 months leading to June was 23.8mph.

The Department for Transport said, since March 2012, annual average speeds have generally decreased, which they attributed to 'intermittent periods of high rainfall over this period, as well as the continuous growth in levels of traffic on A-roads over the last two years'. They also said a stronger economy often leads to more traffic.

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The data is based on journey times estimated using in-vehicle Global Positioning Systems and flows estimated using the department's traffic count information. It does not include weekdays which fall on school holidays or the month of August.

And Dave Stephens, who heads up the traffic analysis team at Norfolk County Council, urged caution into reading too much into what the Department for Transport concedes is 'experimental' data.

He said: 'The figures can be affected by such a variety of factors – from the weather, to higher visitor numbers, to more people travelling to work – and even the number and type of vehicles fitted with the GPS systems which these statistics are generated from. On their own, they don't give a reliable picture of 'congestion' in our county, because we know, where problems do exist, that they tend to be localised around key hotspots, with many actually being off the main A roads and therefore not even included in the data. Perhaps the best we can say about this particular data is that Norfolk's workers have a quicker morning commute than almost anywhere else in the country.

'That's one of the things that makes our county such an appealing place to come to work and live in – and we want to keep it that way.'

What do you think of Norfolk's A-roads? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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