The Department for Transport published in May 2005 National Statistics of average traffic speeds in English urban areas in 2004. This report shows that average speed on roads in large urban areas was 33 km/h during peak hours.
However, almost 30% of this time was spent at a speed under 8 km/h (and 20% during off peak hours).
Average speed has decreased very little since 2000, but the part of time spent at very low speed increased in the peak periods.
In this context, the Secretary of State launched in June a debate on national road charging aiming at reducing congestion.
Roads would be charged from 0.02â‚¬ per kilometre in less dense areas to 1.25â‚¬ per kilometre for the busiest roads, leading to an expected 40% reduction of congestion in urban areas with only 4% less cars using the roads.
Road charging would replace current duties on petrol, leading to a situation where 50% of the traffic would pay less than current taxes on fuel and only a small proportion (0.5%) would pay the maximum charge.
Further research on technology has to be undertaken to ensure privacy, to allow other developments such as customised insurance fees directly related to the distance travelled, but State Secretary announced a decision in the next 2 years on a pilot running within 5 or 6 years.