The number of miles covered by cars in Southend last year dropped to the lowest figure since records began.

Data from the Department for Transport shows cars and taxis covered an estimated 282 million miles on Southend's roads during 2020.

That was 24% fewer than in 2019 when 369 million miles were covered. 

It was the lowest number of miles covered in a single year since records began in 1993. 

It was a similar picture across Great Britain with the number of miles of car journeys down 25%.

The DfT said the figures were heavily impacted by the effects of the coronavirus, with restrictions on travel in place through many months of last year.

Car travel made up 80% of all road miles in Southend in 2020, with lorries and commercial vans making up the rest.

The total milage for all traffic was 352 million miles, down 21% from 447 million miles in 2019.

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Early indications from the Government show traffic could return to 2019 levels as lockdown is eased.

And the RAC has said it has already noticed an increase in vehicles on the road this year, adding it expected a busy summer.

Nicholas Lyes, head of policy, said: “With traffic now creeping back up to near-normal levels and restrictions due to ease further in the next few weeks, we expect it to be a busy summer on the roads.”

But the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, a group which represents the bus and coach industry, says it hopes people do not return to their cars.

The group wants the country to avoid a “car-based recovery”. Instead, it hopes to encourage people to use public transport.

Google mobility data for the month ending April 30 shows public transport use in Southend is still down 31 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

Alison Edwards, Confederation of Passenger Transport UK head of policy at the group, said: "This means ensuring that public transport is not left behind other areas of the economy in the ongoing social distancing review and ministers overtly encouraging people back onto buses and coaches.

“Without this we will see greater congestion slowing our economic recovery along with worsening air quality and increased carbon emissions.”