Sat Navs ruin residential streets as traffic on minor road up by 72%

Sat Navs turn residential streets into rat-runs as traffic on minor roads rockets by 72% in a decade – while dropping on major routes

  • Drivers are directed along quieter roads by sat navs and navigation apps
  • While the use of smaller streets soars, main roads are seeing much less traffic
  • The Department for Transport statistics cover the decade from 2009 to 2019 

The introduction of Sat Nav has spelt the end of quiet residential streets as drivers are directed away from main roads to avoid traffic.

Quiet residential roads have turned into rat-runs as drivers are directed away from larger routes where there are more cars.

And while the number of drivers on smaller streets has soared, main roads are seeing much less traffic.   

Quiet residential roads have turned into rat-runs as drivers are directed by their sat navs and navigation apps away from larger routes where there is more traffic, meaning main roads are seeing much less use, figures from the Department for Transport reveal

Cars are now being directed more often down residential streets (pictured: stock image) 

 Waze is a sat-nav and carpool app owned by Google that aims to give its users the most realistic estimates of their journey based on real-time conditions as crowdsourced from its users.

Commuters can report to the platform on information concerning traffic, accidents, police traps, blocked roads, weather conditions and Waze collects this information and immediately updates the status to provide the most optimal route.

Its live map shows the most up to date road works, congestion, closed roads potholes and even ‘police traps’ in a city using symbols.

Its algorithm can also analyse information based on your live commute without you having to do anything – as long as it knows where you are going and the app is open while you drive.

Waze uses GPS and your movement to calculate average speed, check for errors, improve road layout and learn road and turn direction.

 

The use of these smaller roads, which are not designed for heavy traffic, surged in from 2009 to 2019.  

In London, minor roads saw a staggering 72 per cent increase in use in a decade, while traffic in the northeast was up by 47.1 per cent, and up 40.5 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, The Times reported. 

The motor vehicle traffic figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) also show that traffic dropped on main roads and increased on motorways by only a small amount.

It comes as access to sat navs has increased, with brands like TomTom becoming mainstream, and navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze available on mobile phones. 

Experts believe up to 80 per cent of drivers on the road at any time are using a navigation device.

Mark Burfeind of navigation app Inrix told The Times: “Most drivers do not want to take neighbourhood streets — they would much rather be on arterials or motorways — yet clogged congestion is forcing drivers to seek alternatives.”

The DfT figures mark a major change in driving habits across the UK.

In northwest England, 24.3 per cent of drivers switched from major to minor roads between 2009 and 2019. 

The phenomenon was also clear in the southwest, where 21.2 per cent of drivers adapted their driving habits in the same way. 

The East Midlands also saw a rise of 17.1 per cent, while Scotland only saw a 5.8 per cent increase in traffic on their minor roads. 

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