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Road traffic levels 'fall in 2010'

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Government data has shown that road traffic levels fell at the beginning and end of last year, as the chaos caused by snow largely kept people indoors.

Based on distance travelled by vehicles, there was a 2.1% decline in traffic last year compared with 2009, according to provisional statistics.

The cold weather and heavy snowfall during December played a major role in the fall, as the traffic between October and December 2010 was 3.5% less year-on-year.

As the bad weather lead to more breakdowns, car insurers were flooded with phone calls.

While car and lorry traffic dived by 4% in the final three months last year, light van traffic went up by 1%.

AA public affairs head Paul Watters said: "These estimates make depressing reading. These figures show that millions of drivers were caught up in snow chaos and were going nowhere at the start and end of 2010.

"They also show the continuing impact of the economic downturn and high fuel prices.

He went on: "Our AA/Populus panel data tells us that high fuel prices are preventing 49% of people from driving in the way they used to, impacting negatively on their daily lives unless they have good alternatives.

"We all curse the traffic, but it also means people are doing things that the freedom and mobility of personal transport allows."

© Press Association 2011