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Fascinating Motorway Facts

Most of us use the motorway everyday but how often do we think about the vast network across the country and how it’s maintained for our travel ease. Here are some fascinating facts about the UK motorway that you might not know:

  • The longest motorway in the UK is the M6 and it tots up a total of 236 miles from Leicestershire all the way up to the border with Scotland.
  • The very first motorway in the UK was opened on the 5th December 1958 and now forms a part of the M6. It was initially only 8.5 miles long and also experienced the nation’s first traffic jam as thousands arrived in Lancashire to drive it.

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  • Our motorways in England are maintained by Highways England, whose vans with bright reflective livery are often seen up and down the country’s major road networks. Find out more about this kind of safety livery and Chevron Kits from
  • When it opened, the M25 was the longest ring road on earth, reaching for 118 miles encircling London. A ring road in Berlin has now taken the top spot.
  • Also known as the London Orbital, the M25 isn’t really the M25 all the way around. There is a small section at the Dartford Crossing which is the A282 toll road.
  • The current speed limit of 70mph on the UK’s motorways was imposed back in 1965. The catalyst for the limit was the introduction of a high-speed express train that ran alongside the M1 that led to some drivers trying to keep up with the train!
  • The first full length stretch of motorway was opened in 1959 and called the M1. On the first day alone, it saw 13,000 vehicles join it, with over 100 breaking down within the first 10 miles!
  • When originally built, the M1 was designed to carry 14,000 vehicles per day. It now copes with ten times that amount every day.

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  • More than 94 billion miles worth of journeys occur on the motorway network annually. The motorways stretch for a total of 2,241 miles across the UK.
  • The highest motorway in the UK is the M62 which traverses Saddleworth Moor at 1,222 feet above sea level.
  • The average motorist will spend over a fortnight a year stuck in traffic, due to accidents, roadworks but mostly, just the sheer volume of traffic on the network.

There is nothing worse than being stuck for hours in a traffic jam and it can be incredibly stressful, especially if you desperately need to get somewhere. There have been some mammoth jams in the history of UK roads, caused by many things from farmer animals to terrible crashes. One such traffic jam even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records!

The UK is the dubiously proud owner of the world record for the worst ever traffic jam. It took place on 5th April 1985 and involved a 40-mile back-up of traffic on the M1. The jam stretched all the way from junction 16 to 18 and caused many hundreds of drivers to be trapped in their vehicles for hours.


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