Congestion is easily one of the most hateful aspects of driving today, but if you think the constant clog of bumper-to-bumper traffic is bad now, then you’ll hate this latest prediction from the Department for Transport (DfT).

By 2050, traffic levels in England and Wales could rise by 51 per cent, compared with what they were like in 2015, according to estimates from the government body.

While a rise of more than half might be the most severe outcome, DfT warns that even under the most conservative scenario, traffic should go up by at least 17 per cent.

One of the more eye-opening points in the DfT’s Road Traffic Forecasts 2018 is the expectation that van traffic could grow by anything between 23 per cent and 108 per cent.

This remarkable growth has been blamed on a growing population, with a greater number of people naturally resulting in more trips overall.

Safety groups might have reason to welcome increasingly clogged roads though, with all this congestion fueling a decline in average speeds.

Similarly, environmental groups will cheer at the prospect of tailpipe CO2 emissions from road vehicles reducing by anything between 17 and 76 per cent.

These predictions swing so wildly because it’s rough to accurately predict the influence of autonomous and connected vehicles.

Reacting to the DfT’s report, RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding pointed out that currently, the average car sits parked 96 per cent of the time taking up kerb and driveway space.

“The government recognises that the big unknown is the impact of driverless cars,” he said.

“In the future, we might all still want to travel as much as today but the overall number of cars licensed could fall as each one is shared more and does a higher number of trips.”

Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, added: “This report raises some interesting questions regarding conventional vehicle usage. Ride-sharing may have become the norm by 2050 but a 51 per cent increase in congestion is too nightmarish to envisage.”

Photo: Kichigin/iStock

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