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Road delays across England have been on the increase over the last year, according to new figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

In its “Benchmarking National Highways – Regional Performance 2021-22” report, the ORR found that average delay times on the strategic road network increased in every region of the country. 

The national average for delays rose from 6.7 seconds per vehicle mile in 2020-21 to 8.8 seconds in 2021-22. This increase is largely attributed to the recovery in traffic levels since the end of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Although delays are on the rise, the current average is still below pre-pandemic levels and is just within National Highways’ 2024-25 target of 9.5 seconds per vehicle mile. However, the ORR noted that delay times may keep increasing in 2022-23 while traffic levels continue to recover.

The North West saw the biggest increase in delays, rising from 6.0 seconds per vehicle mile in 2020-21, to 8.8 seconds in 2021-22. It also had the longest delays due to roadworks, with the average for the region sitting at 2.4 minutes per hour travelled. 

The South East experienced the worst delays overall, where the average was 9.8 seconds per vehicle mile – the only region to go over the national target.

Feras Alshaker, Director of Highways at ORR, said that increasing traffic levels was a key contributor to the rise in delays: “In 2021-22, National Highways’ regions were dealt the challenge of maintaining performance in the face of rising traffic levels. As traffic levels recovered, delays also increased.

“Our report is an important resource that we expect National Highways to use to explore and understand regional variations in performance and, where practicable, to act on lessons learned to improve performance across the strategic road network.”

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