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10 Interesting Facts About UK Motorways To Fuel Your Knowledge

Who knew the M6 was that long?

Motorways in England have come a long way since the first one opened in 1958. Now, over 4 million journeys are taken on them every day, but how much do you really know about the road network that helps get drivers from A to B?

Keep scrolling for some insightful and surprising facts to help broaden your knowledge — the perfect trivia for your next dinner party!

1. The Preston Bypass, aka the first-ever stretch of motorway in the UK, was only 8 miles long.

M6 motorway with overhead signs to Birmingham and Liverpool

2. In case you didn't know, National Highways manages the strategic road network in England. It consists of a whopping 4,500 miles of motorways and major A-roads.

Aerial view of a Smart Motorway with cars and lorries driving on it

3. The longest road bridge in England is actually the M6 Bromford Viaduct. It takes traffic right through Birmingham from Castle Bromwich to Spaghetti Junction. Built between 1964 and 1972, it’s an incredible 5,600 metres long!

Aerial view of Spaghetti Junction motorway with cars and lorries driving on it

4. Contrary to popular opinion, the M25 isn’t a continuous motorway that goes all the way around London. Ever heard of the Dartford Crossing? One of the main routes into London from the East, it's an A-road that punctuates the M25, allowing non-motorway traffic to cross the Thames. The only circular motorway is the M60 around Manchester.

Wintery M25 with blurred vehicles driving along it

5. In 2020, National Highways revealed that more than 46,000 items ended up on England’s motorways and major A-roads across the space of 10 months. Traffic officers dealt with everything from a washing machine and sofa to a double-glazed door and a ship’s mast!

Washing machines illegally dumped on the road

6. By 2030, National Highways will have planted at least 3 million trees, making it one of the biggest tree planters in the UK.

Motorway with large trees surrounding it

7. By the end of 2020, the rollout of additional smart motorways created almost 500 miles of added motorway capacity without needing to build new roads or use extra land!

Vehicles driving on a smart motorway with an orange emergency zone

8. The M62 is the highest motorway in the UK at 372 metres above sea level; the highest point is referred to as the M62 Summit.

View of the M62 motorway, with fields and trees surrounding it

9. A massive 86% of motorway incidents are cleared within one hour throughout the day and night...

Traffic officer vehicle attending a road traffic incident with a heavy duty goods vehicle

10. Did you know that marker posts tell you where you are on the network? You'll find them every 100 metres!

Driver location signs

Whatever part of the motorway network you’re driving on, check out National Highways' advice on how to keep safe ahead of your next journey!