‘Stay at home’ plea as traffic on Devon roads rises by 10,000 journeys a day

People have been urged to stay at home after traffic volumes in Devon increased by 10,000 daily journeys in the space of a week.

Average speeds are also up and and more motorists are flouting the legal limits, highways bosses have warned.

The figures, revealed this morning (Friday, May 1), have been taken from a sample of 10 automatic counters on A-roads. Two of these are in East Devon; on the A3052 and the A376.

A dramatic 69 per cent reduction in traffic had been recorded across the county in the first fortnight of the coronavirus lockdown.

Daily trips on the monitored roads fell to around 57,000 – compared to 178,000 at the same time last year.

Devon County Council (DCC) is reminding residents they should only be making essential journeys, as numbers have started to ‘creep up’.

The M5 near to Broadclyst and Poltimore in East Devon.

The M5 near to Broadclyst and Poltimore in East Devon over the Easter weekend.

The authority says, over the last week, around 10,000 more daily journeys are now being made.

Weekday flows are currently averaging around 70,000 trips per day at the 10 sites.

Seven-day flows have grown by 20 per cent since the end of March.

Morning traffic flows between 8am and 9am have only seen a small rise in the last week – an average of 21 trips per traffic counter site.

“It would seem most of the increased trips are taking place outside of the traditional morning peak hour,” said a DCC spokesperson.

“Although traffic speeds are still being analysed, early indications are that average speeds have also increased during the lockdown period, and a greater proportion of traffic is travelling above speed limits.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management, said: “It is, of course, a concern to see any increase in traffic flows on Devon’s roads, though what we’re seeing reflects the national picture.

“The lockdown restrictions are tough on all of us, but I would urge everyone to think about whether you need to make your journey.

“We’ve all heard the messages about staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives, and we should thank everyone who has stuck to that because we’ve seen that you are making a difference.

“The South West has the lowest rate of hospital coronavirus cases in the country, and everyone in our region has helped play a part in that by observing the lockdown restrictions.

“We can’t let that go now, particularly with a bank holiday coming up.

“If everyone starts travelling around Devon, it may not take much for us to lose the progress we’ve made. Please continue with your efforts – stay at home and only make essential journeys.”

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