Motorways

Motorways

Particularly in Europe, the car remains the most used means of transport, given the region's small size compared with other continents and its extensive road network along with the absence or inadequacy of alternative transport channels.
Over the last decade the highest rates of growth have been seen in Spain and Belgium (over 4% and 5% respectively), against an average of 1% to 3% for France, Germany and Italy. In the US and Japan, where the motorway networks are comparable to Europe's in terms of infrastructure but not extension or use, traffic grew, but not as fast as in Europe.
In 2008, motorway traffic was hit in the first six months by soaring fuel costs, which mainly affected the leisure component and in the second half by the financial crisis and its impact on commercial traffic. In North America, traffic shrank by 4% in the areas served by the Group1; in Italy the decline was 0.7%2.
In the coming years, we are likely to see investment in upgrading the main arteries of the larger western countries (e.g., in Europe, the north-south and east-west corridors and the construction of road networks in the main central and eastern regions) and accelerated expenditure for basic infrastructure in emerging countries.
Forecasts for the next three to four years are for traffic growth of between 1% and 2%3 in Europe and North America.

1 Figures source: F.H.W.A., Federal Highway Administration, figures updated to December 2008
2 Figures source: A.I.S.C.A.T., November 2008
3 Figures source: Autogrill restatement based on A.I.S.C.A.T. and Bureau of Transportation Statistics figures