Our new flagship study into the state of the UKs motorways has unearthed some scathing truths regarding Britain's busiest stretches of road.
DRIVERS on the M1 have endured more ROADWORKS than any other major motorway in England, according to new research. The M1, connecting Leeds with London is not the nation’s longest motorway, and not thought to be the busiest either. But in the last five years it’s racked-up 35,000 more instances of repairs, resurfacing, speed restrictions and hard shoulder closures than nearest rival the M6.
That’s according to data released by Highways England following our Freedom of Information Request, the first of its kind by any car leasing company.
The M1 has also been subject to recent Smart motorway upgrades, but the revamps come with their own set of safety risks. The smart motorway network could double in size by 2025 to 788 miles - despite ongoing safety concerns - it could spell yet more misery for the UK’s beleaguered motorist.
Select Car Leasing’s Mark Tongue said: “The stats are quite startling. The M1 is 193 miles long - which is 40 miles shorter than the M6. And yet in the last five years the M1 has been the scene of 112,098 roadworks, vastly eclipsing the M6 which had just 76,474 such incidences.
“That’s an enormous difference.
“And it tallies with other surveys which have found the M1 to be the most frustrating highway for UK motorists when it comes to roadworks, delays, disruptions and diversions.”
The FOI request asked the DVLA to detail any ’‘roadworks’ on any major English motorways - those above 80 miles in length - in the last five years.
That comprised the M1, M6, M62, M5, M4, M40 and M25.
‘Roadworks’ had a broad definition including everything from temporary lane closures, bridge repairs, barrier re-tensioning, carriageway sweeping, hard shoulder closures, pothole repairs, speed restrictions and even ‘horticulture works’.
Bottom of the list when it comes to the number of roadworks is the M25 - the London orbital - with just 4,994 in the last five years.
And that, says Mark of Select Car Leasing, could represent a double-edged sword.
He explains: “You look at the stats for the M25 and you might assume that fewer roadworks results in fewer disruptions and therefore a more pleasant driving experience compared with other motorways of a comparable distance.
“But on the flip side it might also mean that the overall condition of the M25 is suffering much more than other motorways because it’s not being maintained.
“The M1 has had twenty times the number of roadworks compared with the M25 in the same time period.
“And we know that a stretch of the M25 through Surrey has generated lots of complaints regarding the state of the road’s surface and the subsequent noise pollution it generates.”
In recent weeks Woking MP Jonathan Lord backed a petition calling on Highways England to resurface a section of the M25 described by one resident as ‘the worst bit of motorway I have ever driven on.’
The offending stretch is between Junction 10, at Wisley, and Junction 11, at Chertsey, which is so worn and rutted that nearby residents have protested they can no longer tolerate the terrible sound it causes.
A Highways England spokesman responded saying: "We are aware of concerns which have recently been raised regarding the noise generated by driving over the concrete section of the M25 between junctions 10 and 11.
"Despite the noise on this section, the road is completely safe to drive on. However, a scheme is underway to renew the joints between the concrete slabs which will reduce the noise and improve the driving experience on the M25 between junctions 8 and 11."
Each year national watchdog Transport Focus conducts a Strategic Roads User Survey to gather data on road user satisfaction on major and minor roads across the country.
Their 2018/2019 revealed how the M6 scored worst among the major motorways, with an ‘overall satisfaction’ rating of just 72 out of 100, with ‘journey time’ a particular issue.
The M6 was closely followed by the M25, with a score of 76, and the M1, with a score of 77.
Meanwhile the highest ranking motorway in the satisfaction stakes is the M11 - which runs between London and Cambridge - and which had a score of 92.
Select Car Leasing’s Mark added: “Motorway driving can be a safe way to travel, with single carriageway roads being seven times more dangerous than motorways in terms of regularity of crashes.
“But you need to keep your wits about you.
“Uneven surfaces can wreak all kinds of havoc on the suspension and handling of your car.
“And if you do get stuck in one of Highways England’s dreaded night closures, make sure you keep a cool head while navigating the diversion.”
Here is a breakdown of the number of roadworks on major motorways in England in the last five years: