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M25 motorway

Traffic alert: Britain’s five busiest road sections revealed

M25 motorway

The government has revealed the five busiest road sections in Great Britain, and it won’t surprise you to discover that four of them are on the M25.

Predictably, the stretch linking junction 14 at Heathrow Airport with the M4 at junction 15 is the most congested, with 219,000 vehicles using the section EVERY DAY in 2018.

Junction 13 at Staines to junction 14 is the next busiest road with 206,000 vehicles, with junction 15 to junction 16 for the M40 motorway next up with 201,000 vehicles.

The section linking junctions 12 and 13 completes the misery for motorists forced to use the M25 on a daily basis, with 193,000 vehicles hitting the short section every day.

Only the M1 between junction 9 for Rebourn and junction 8 for Hemel Hempstead manages to muscle in on the M25’s dominance, with 184,000 vehicles using the stretch of motorway in Hertfordshire.

Commuters on the M25

The figures were taken by an analysis of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), which is made up of motorways and major trunk roads managed by Highways England, or equivalent truck road networks in the devolved administrations.

Amazingly, although the SRN makes up just 2.4 percent of England’s road network, it carried 34 percent of all motorised traffic in England.

Even more amazing – if you enjoy road statistics – is the fact that, at a national level, 85 percent of Britain’s traffic was on England’s roads in 2018. If you need a break, head to Scotland or Wales…

Of the five local authorities in England with the highest levels of traffic, three are in the South East (Hampshire, Kent and Surrey), and the other two are in the East of England region (Essex and Hertfordshire).

Surprise: traffic is DOWN in London

London Congestion Charge

But motor vehicle traffic is up across almost the entire country, with the South West showing the biggest increase since 1993 (39 percent), followed by Scotland and East of England (both up 37 percent).

Only Greater London bucked the trend, with traffic down 4 percent, presumably a symptom of anti-car legislation, expensive parking and the use of public transport.

If you’ve had enough of traffic congestion, we can recommend some terrific roads in Scotland and Wales. Alternatively, check out our list of the quietest A-roads in the country.

May Day mayhem: Motorists braced for cold weather and long delays

traffic congestion uk

Drivers taking to the road over the coming weekend can look forward to congestion and delays, with the RAC predicting the busiest May Day bank holiday since 2016.

Predictably, Friday will be the busiest, with 4.4 million leisure road trips planned – a huge 1.5 million MORE than the same day last year. In total, 13.4 million leisure journeys are expected from Friday to Monday, says the breakdown organisation.

But unlike the Easter weekend, when the country experienced unseasonably warm weather, the nation is braced for a cold snap over the May Day bank holiday, with the RAC encouraging drivers to be prepared for lower temperatures and wintry showers.

‘Motoring mayday’

 

Motorway traffic jam

RAC Breakdown spokesperson, Rod Dennis, said: “Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.

“However, there is a risk that drivers will suffer their own ‘motoring mayday’ if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost – seriously disrupting plans for a getaway. Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a wash-out.

“The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.”

Best times to travel

Traffic-free roads

To avoid delays over the May Day bank holiday weekend, the RAC recommends taking to the road at the following times:

  • Friday 3 May (4.4m leisure trips): before 4pm and after 7pm
  • Saturday 4 May (3.4m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Sunday 5 May (2.5m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Monday 6 May (3.1m leisure trips): before 12pm and after 4pm

To avoid congestion, listen to local radio stations for up-to-date traffic information or use a sat-nav with a traffic setting.

Highways England is lifting roadworks for Easter 2019

roadworks easter 2019

Highways England is working hard to give motorists a Happy Easter by lifting and completing 459 miles of roadworks.

It means that 99 percent of the country’s motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks in time for the Easter weekend. “Egg-cellent”, said a motorist. Probably.

Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Easter and that’s why we’re keeping around 99 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.

“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

Research shows that half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided by carrying out some basic checks. These including ensuring you have enough fuel, checking the tyre pressures, checking the oil and water levels, and checking your headlights.

traffic congestion uk

Before you set off, it’s a good idea to check the Traffic England website for live traffic information, as well as tuning into your local radio station. The various traffic accounts on Twitter are another useful resource when you’re on the move.

Holidaymakers travelling to Wales this Easter are in for an early treat, with the Seven Bridge now toll-free for the first time since 1966.

For everybody else, take comfort in the fact that England’s strategic road network will be free of roadworks from 06:00 Thursday 18 April until 12.01 Tuesday 23 April.

The UK’s busiest roads

traffic a30 cornwall

The removal of the roadworks is unlikely to help the motorists who find themselves on any of the country’s most notorious bottlenecks. The traditional tourist routes are likely to be gridlocked as families make their Easter getaway.

Traffic hotspots include the A303 at Stonehenge, A30 and A38 through Devon and Cornwall, M5 from Bristol to Taunton, A55 North Wales Expressway, M55 between Preston and Blackpool and M53 between Liverpool and Chester.

Congestion is also expected on the M1 from Hertfordshire to Leicestershire, the M25 and the M3 and M4 out of London.

The M5 at Bristol

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the Easter bank holiday falling so late this year we are expecting to see a double wave of getaway traffic – firstly at the end of this week, and then again two weeks later for the four-day weekend.

“We’re hopeful the weather won’t cause drivers too many issues through this coming weekend, but everyone should be ready for some typical short, sharp April showers, with even the possibility of some snow on higher ground in the north.

“This can be a busy time of year for our patrols so we strongly urge motorists to check over their vehicles before they set out. This is particularly important for people driving long distances.

“Spending just a few moments to check oil, coolant, together with tyre tread depth and pressures, can mean the difference between a long but completed journey and one disrupted by an inconvenient, and perhaps preventable, breakdown that ruins the start of a holiday.”

 

Traffic

Manchester traffic delays second only to London

Traffic

Manchester is second only to London for traffic jams. That’s according to a new league table from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The NIC examined the ease with which commuters could drive from one area to another in peak times versus off-peak times. The areas with the biggest disparity between the two were considered the most congested.

Liverpool and Birmingham follow in third and fourth behind London and Manchester. Unsurprisingly, the top 25 traffic hot-spots on the table are all urban areas. The highest ranked non-“primary urban area”, at number 26, was a combined area spanning Accrington and Rossendale in Lancashire.

Sir John Armitt, NIC Chairman, said the data demonstrates the need for significant investment in the UK’s urban road networks.

Its plan to amend the situation? Put the power (and money) back in the hands of the local leaders – those that have a better understanding of what their constituents need and can develop their own integrated plans to battle traffic.

A small number of cities will benefit from the Commission’s attention. Any lessons will passed on to other areas.

Traffic

“From Manchester to Bournemouth our cities are facing gridlock – creating misery for people trying to get from A to B,” said Sir John.

“Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.”

The NIC is an independent organisation tasked with advising the government on how the country’s infrastructure needs to evolve. The league table was assembled as part of the five-yearly National Infrastructure Assessment, now calling for an extra £43 billion for urban transport improvements by 2040.

Read more:

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas - but these areas will be hit by roadworks

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas – but these areas will be hit by roadworks

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas - but these areas will be hit by roadworks

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will be suspending its congestion charge over the festive period – but has warned that some areas will face extra traffic caused by roadworks.

TfL said today that the congestion charge will be suspended from Saturday 24 December until Monday 2 January inclusive. The daily charge (£11.50) will apply again from Tuesday 3 January.

The charge, which normally applies in Central London on weekdays between 7am and 6pm, is traditionally dropped over the Christmas period.

These are the main roadworks being carried out in London over Christmas:

Victoria Embankment: Until the end of the day on Friday 23 December, there will be a westbound lane restriction on Victoria Embankment at the junction of Temple Avenue. This is to facilitate repairs to a gas leak.

Tower Bridge: Until 30 December, Tower Bridge is closed to all traffic while the City of London Corporation carry out major essential maintenance works. Roads in and around the area will be busier than usual. A signed diversion route is in place, via London Bridge northbound and via Southwark Bridge southbound.

A1 Holloway Road: Planned closures of A1 Holloway Road continue until mid-January 2017. This is while work is carried out to replace Upper Holloway Bridge.

Finchley Road: Until 31 December, there are lane restrictions on A41 at Finchley Road at the junction of College Crescent. This is for utility works.

Victoria: Until 27 January, there are lane restrictions on Buckingham Palace Road at the junction of Victoria Street. This is for construction works.

Archway: From 21:00 on Saturday 17 December, the gyratory around Archway Tube station will be removed and switched to two-way traffic. From 05:00 on Sunday 18 December, Highgate Hill will be permanently closed to vehicles and there will be no right turn from St. John’s Way to Archway Road or from Junction Road to Holloway Road.

Central London: From 09:00 until 18:00 on Monday 19 December, roads in the area will be busier than usual, including Great Portland Street, Regent Street, Whitehall and Parliament Square. This is due to demonstrations.

Central London: From 08:00 on Monday 26 December until 06:00 on 3 January, there will be lane restrictions on A501 Euston Road between Edgware Road and King’s Cross. This is for TfL maintenance and utility works.

More information on travelling in London over the Christmas period can be found on TfL’s website.

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

Half term holidays are on their way for many areas of the UK – with many families hoping to get away on one last break before winter truly arrives.

Car parts supplier Euro Car Parts has surveyed 1,000 parents to find out when most families are hoping to hit the road this half term – revealing the times and dates during which different areas are expected to experience unusually high levels of traffic.

The survey revealed that most parents will be heading away on their holidays on Monday 24th October, closely followed by Saturday 22nd. Euro Car Parts says that areas including Birmingham, Nottingham and Southampton will bear the brunt of the traffic, while tourism hotspots such as the Cotswolds and South West will also be busy.

The roads will be at their most congested at around midday – although the majority of parents say they’d rather get on the road earlier in the day.

On average, most holidaymakers expect to drive around 100 miles during their holiday – increasing to 120 miles for those in Nottingham and Birmingham.

Euro Car Parts’ UK CEO, Martin Gray, said: “It’s clear to see from these figures that there are definitely particular days and times when you should hold off on travelling if you wish to avoid the traffic. However, if you do end up caught in the rush, hopefully our tips for keeping the kids entertained will help!”

These tips include investing in a portable DVD player, or download audiobooks onto your phone to keep little bookworms amused while avoiding travel sickness.

RegionWhen to avoid travelling
Central England12pm – 12:15pm 24th October
South West England12pm – 12:15pm 24th October
Northern England12pm – 12:15pm 22nd October
Northern Ireland12pm – 12:15pm 4th October
Republic of Ireland1pm – 1:15pm 15th October
Scotland12:15pm – 12:30pm 9th October
South East England12pm – 12:15pm 10th October
Wales9am – 9:15am or 12pm – 12:15pm 23rd October
Bank holiday traffic this weekend could be 'worst in years'

Bank holiday traffic this weekend could be ‘worst in years’

Bank holiday traffic this weekend could be 'worst in years'

Experts are warning of a so-called ‘carmageddon’ as an estimated 20.7 million vehicles are expected to hit UK roads this weekend.

Transport information supplier Inrix says that predicted hot weather and the last three-day weekend this side of Christmas means that twice as many cars as usual could be clogging up our motorways.

That’s backed by the RAC’s Traffic Watch study, which suggests Saturday will be the busiest day – with 5 million getaways planned. Even Brexit could be contributing to the chaos, with more people choosing to holiday in the UK because of the weaker pound.

RAC Traffic Watch spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Our study of drivers’ plans for the late August bank holiday certainly suggests a bumper time on the roads as motorists make the most of the last long weekend before the end of the summer by jumping in the car to see friends or family.

“The see-saw weather patterns – warm, dry and sunny one day, cool, wet and windy the next – look set to continue but any doubts about the weather clearly are not playing on motorists’ minds with so many of us planning a late August break.”

The warnings follow reports from the AA that traffic close to airports could peak in the week ahead of the bank holiday weekend, as holidaymakers attempt to squeeze in a getaway before the end of the school holidays.

Last summer, Inrix recorded around 280 congestion incidents on motorways close to Heathrow during the week before the August bank holiday weekend. That compares to 210 in the first week of the school summer holidays in July.

AA president, Edmund King, said: “We were surprised to see such a surge in traffic problems around airports in the week leading to the August bank holiday, assuming that the holiday season was likely to be tailing off then.

“There is a clear warning to drivers heading to Gatwick or Heathrow for a ‘last hurrah’ summer holiday or a long bank holiday weekend abroad. They need to build extra time into their journeys to the airport and check traffic conditions before they leave. There is nothing worse than sitting in a traffic jam within sight of the airport, watching the minutes until departure tick away.

“Other ‘London’ airports such as Luton have also seen an increase in localised congestion with some desperate passengers leaving their taxis to run the last half-mile to the airport.”

Revealed: the top 10 bank holiday congestion hotspots

These are the hotspots highlighted by Inrix, expected to be the most congestion over the weekend. The time in brackets is the expected delay.

1. M25 between J9 Leatherhead and J21 Winch Hill Wood (90 minutes)

2. M5 southbound from J14 Thornbury and J22 Highbridge (90 minutes)

3. M25 between J4 Orpington and Dartford Tunnel (50 minutes)

4. M27/A31 between Southampton and Ringwood (50 minutes)

5. M4 westbound from London to the West Country (50 minutes)

6. M6 between J19 Knutsford and J22 Warrington (45 minutes)

7. M6 northbound from Keele to Knutsford (40 minutes)

8. A303 westbound from Andover to Amesbury (40 minutes)

9. M5 between J4a Bromsgrove and J7 Worcester (30 minutes)

10. M25 between J29 Codham Hall Wood and the QEII Bridge (30 minutes)

Snarled-up traffic jam

Traffic ‘black Friday’ will see 5.4 million MORE cars on the road

Snarled-up traffic jamThe RAC believes road traffic will rocket this weekend as schools break up for the summer with a staggering 14.4 million cars set to hit the road.

Remarkably, that’s a full 5.4 million more planned car trips than in 2015, which has led the motoring organisation to predict ‘traffic overdrive’ between Thursday-Sunday.

> More car news on Motoring Research

RAC traffic spokesman Simon Williams said: “Our data shows that the 2016 end-of-term rush for the roads is likely to be dramatically worse than last year’s.

“The end of the summer school term is always marked by millions of cars heading for their holiday destinations but this year’s getaway looks like it will be bigger than ever as the volume of traffic builds from 2.4m cars on Thursday to a peak of 4.5m on Saturday.”

Why the spike this year? Be British: blame the weather. “Perhaps the normal numbers who have booked to go away are being boosted by opportunists who are looking to make the most of the coming weekend in the belief that Britain is finally due to have a protracted spell of sunny summer weather.”

School holiday 2016 traffic overdrive: in numbers

The RAC warns that 2.4 million end-of-term summer car journeys will take place on Thursday 21 July, rising to 3.3 million journeys on Friday 22 July.

Saturday and Sunday will be the worst days though, with 4.5 million journeys on Saturday 23 July and 4.2 million journeys on Sunday 24 July – yes, Sunday is predicted to be barely any worse than Saturday.

On the weekend, the worst times to travel will be between 11am and 4pm; on Friday, the traffic peaks will be between 4pm and 9pm.

“If you are one of the 14.4m motorists heading for holiday this weekend from Thursday,” says Williams, “the best advice is to hit the road as early as you can. Avoiding peak travel times is not easy, but it can mean several less hours spent in the car.

“Friday evening is likely to be especially hectic on major routes, as is Saturday from late morning to mid-afternoon”

empty road Scotland

Shhh: are these Britain's quietest A-roads?

empty road Scotland

Ah, the joys of the open road. A grey ribbon of tarmac snaking its way through unspoilt countryside, leaving you to enjoy every gear-change and blip on the throttle. Bliss.

Sadly, the reality is somewhat different. Ask anyone who has done the school run, or commuted to work at peak time or tried to get to Glastonbury and they’ll tell you that open roads are few and far between. Truth is: you’ve got to drive a long way to escape congestion.

Indeed, as research conducted by Avis reveals, you’ll need to venture to the far corners of Britain to find traffic-free roads. Using official data from the Department for Transport, Avis has been able to pinpoint the quietest A-roads, defined by the lowest amount of vehicles per kilometre, per year.

A897: It’s oh so quiet

It won’t surprise you to learn that the quietest A-road happens to be in Scotland – more specifically the A897 in the Highlands. The 37.1-mile stretch of road makes its way from Helmsdale to Melvich and was formerly the B872.

But before you pack your bags and head north of the border, hoping for an evocative drive through the Highlands, the A897 doesn’t get a particularly good write-up on the SABRE (Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts) website.

It says: “Whilst it is a very important route for the scattered communities that lie along it, tourists would be better advised to look further west for a real taste of the Highlands.”

A481: Be quiet and drive

The A481 in Powys is ranked second – a 9.9-mile stretch that will be familiar to anyone who has visited the Royal Welsh Showground near Builth Wells. As SABRE points out, the road links the town with “nowhere in particular”, which might explain why it’s so quiet.

Unsurprisingly, none of the A-roads on the list are located in the South, South East or West Midlands, but we’re sure locals will know of their own private rat-runs and roads far from the madding crowd.

The list in full:

  1. A897 – Scotland
  2. A481 – Wales
  3. A3079 – South West
  4. A5091 – North West
  5. A686 – North East
  6. A1111 – East Midlands
  7. A1062 – East Anglia

Avis conducted the research to promote the launch of its new Select Series – a collection of seven cars that give customers peace of mind they’ll get the exact make and model they’ve selected. Cars include the BMW 1-Series, Volvo V60 R-Design Lux Nav, Lexus NX 300h and Hyundai Santa Fe Premium.

Nina Bell of Avis said: “We want to help our customers experience the real joys of driving with limited disruptions and stresses, such as traffic and busy city centre routes. Now with our Select Series range, they can test drive the exact car they want where the distractions are the fantastic and remote landscapes.”

Of course, you don’t need an Avis rental car to experience these roads. An electric car would be more suitable – assuming you have the range required to reach these A-road outposts.

Alternatively, only two new cars meet the standards set by Quiet Mark. One is the Lexus CT200h, the other being the Lexus RX450h. Shhh.

empty road Scotland

Shhh: are these Britain’s quietest A-roads?

empty road Scotland

Ah, the joys of the open road. A grey ribbon of tarmac snaking its way through unspoilt countryside, leaving you to enjoy every gear-change and blip on the throttle. Bliss.

Sadly, the reality is somewhat different. Ask anyone who has done the school run, or commuted to work at peak time or tried to get to Glastonbury and they’ll tell you that open roads are few and far between. Truth is: you’ve got to drive a long way to escape congestion.

Indeed, as research conducted by Avis reveals, you’ll need to venture to the far corners of Britain to find traffic-free roads. Using official data from the Department for Transport, Avis has been able to pinpoint the quietest A-roads, defined by the lowest amount of vehicles per kilometre, per year.

A897: It’s oh so quiet

It won’t surprise you to learn that the quietest A-road happens to be in Scotland – more specifically the A897 in the Highlands. The 37.1-mile stretch of road makes its way from Helmsdale to Melvich and was formerly the B872.

But before you pack your bags and head north of the border, hoping for an evocative drive through the Highlands, the A897 doesn’t get a particularly good write-up on the SABRE (Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts) website.

It says: “Whilst it is a very important route for the scattered communities that lie along it, tourists would be better advised to look further west for a real taste of the Highlands.”

A481: Be quiet and drive

The A481 in Powys is ranked second – a 9.9-mile stretch that will be familiar to anyone who has visited the Royal Welsh Showground near Builth Wells. As SABRE points out, the road links the town with “nowhere in particular”, which might explain why it’s so quiet.

Unsurprisingly, none of the A-roads on the list are located in the South, South East or West Midlands, but we’re sure locals will know of their own private rat-runs and roads far from the madding crowd.

The list in full:

  1. A897 – Scotland
  2. A481 – Wales
  3. A3079 – South West
  4. A5091 – North West
  5. A686 – North East
  6. A1111 – East Midlands
  7. A1062 – East Anglia

Avis conducted the research to promote the launch of its new Select Series – a collection of seven cars that give customers peace of mind they’ll get the exact make and model they’ve selected. Cars include the BMW 1-Series, Volvo V60 R-Design Lux Nav, Lexus NX 300h and Hyundai Santa Fe Premium.

Nina Bell of Avis said: “We want to help our customers experience the real joys of driving with limited disruptions and stresses, such as traffic and busy city centre routes. Now with our Select Series range, they can test drive the exact car they want where the distractions are the fantastic and remote landscapes.”

Of course, you don’t need an Avis rental car to experience these roads. An electric car would be more suitable – assuming you have the range required to reach these A-road outposts.

Alternatively, only two new cars meet the standards set by Quiet Mark. One is the Lexus CT200h, the other being the Lexus RX450h. Shhh.