West Sussex motorists urged to only travel for essential reasons after traffic increases

West Sussex motorists are being urged to only travel if absolutely nececessary after road use increased by 21 per cent.

Road chiefs in the county have issued a fresh plea to West Sussex motorists to only travel if absolutely essential after traffic levels increased week on week.

Traffic counters in the county showed vastly-reduced levels in the first three weeks after nationwide travel restrictions were announced on 23 March, according to a West Sussex County Council spokesman.

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But he said last week’s weekday figures (Monday April 20 to Friday April 24) showed a 21 per cent increase on the previous week.

A permanent traffic counter on the A24

He added: “The weekend was also much busier – with a 15 per cent increase for Saturday and 12 per cent for Sunday, compared to the previous weekend.”

Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “I would appeal to residents to remember the travel restrictions are crucial in the fight against Coronavirus spreading – please adhere to the Government’s message and only travel if absolutely necessary.”

Before lockdown was announced, the county’s traffic counters recorded a daily total of about 165,000 vehicles on weekdays. In the first three weeks after 23 March, that figure was frequently about 60,000 vehicles a day. But the figures since last Monday (20 April) show an increase to about 72,000 vehicles a day.

Roger added: “Of course, we don’t have permanent monitors on every road in the county, so the counters can only provide a sample figure and suggest a trend for what’s happening on the roads but they do cover a wide geographic spread.”

The nine counters are on A roads in the Broadbridge Heath area (two), Climping, East Grinstead, Findon, Horsham, Shoreham, Southbourne and Worthing.

Roger also appealed to drivers and riders to remember that, while roads had become quieter overall, speed limits had not changed.

He said: “Emptier roads have led to some motorists being tempted to speed, so I would take this opportunity to remind people that, although the roads are quieter, the speed limits are the same.

“Speeding at any time is both illegal and risky – speed limits are there for everyone’s safety: but an avoidable accident during the coronavirus outbreak, when the NHS faces such a challenge, puts all the emergency and care services under unnecessary extra pressure.”

Drivers are also reminded to take even more care to watch for pedestrians who may step into the road to maintain social distancing and to be aware there could be more cyclists on the road, with people choosing to cycle for permitted exercise during the outbreak.

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