Some of the UK’s roads have received a mention in the Guinness Book of Records – but sadly, not always for the right reasons! If you’re planning to take a drive across our green and pleasant country, here are some road records to remember.
The Great British roads officially hold some rather unwanted records, such as the A3 Kingston bypass between New Malden and Tolworth being named as the busiest non-motorway road, carrying around 125,000 vehicles per day. The major road stretches for 67 miles, connecting London and Portsmouth and passing close to Kingston upon Thames.
In the 17th century, the historic road (known as Portsmouth Road) was significant strategically, as it linked London with England’s main Royal Navy port. Continual road improvements, which began in the 1920s, have transformed the A3 into a two and three-lane trunk road, with the associated heavy traffic.
Another road with an unwanted record is the M8 in Glasgow, which holds the title for the shortest distance between motorway exits. The whole section of the road around Glasgow is packed with junctions, some of them with restrictions, making driving a stressful experience. The distance between junctions 18 and 19 is less than 643 feet – 160 metres – making it the shortest in the world.
The M8 has a chequered history, without the junction issues. It was almost completed in 1995 but the section between the M9 and the A720 wasn’t finished at the time, leaving a six-mile gap between Baillieston and Newhouse! For more than two decades, motorists using Scotland’s most important motorway found a gap between junctions six and eight.
At this point, they had to use the old A8 dual carriageway, which struggled to cope with the heavy traffic coming off the M8. Finally, in April 2017, the much-delayed M8 project was completed, with the remaining section of the motorway opening at last.
The record for the worst traffic jam ever is held by the M1, where there was a 40-mile tailback, stretching between junctions 16 and 18 on 5th April, 1985. The cause was roadworks, the scourge of British motorists. Three years later, the longest line of stationary traffic ever recorded was on the M25 – which cost a whopping £1 billion to construct and connects to nine other motorways.
A tailback of bumper-to-bumper stationary vehicles, measuring a mighty 22 miles, was recorded on 17th August 1988, between junctions eight and nine of the M25. With its notoriety for horrific traffic jams, the road is affectionately known as the “world’s biggest car park” and is said to have been the inspiration for musician Chris Rea’s 1989 hit song, Road to Hell. Worryingly, there was apparently no special reason for the record-breaking tailback in 1988.
When trying to exit the motorway, some drivers always get in the wrong lane, miss their junction or swerve across two lanes of traffic to the annoyance of other motorists – in a bid to make their exit on time. The last place they would wish to be is the M61, which holds the record for most carriageway lanes on a UK road. There are an impressive 17 lanes, side-by-side, on the stretch of M61 in Greater Manchester at Linnyshaw Moss, Worsley.
The motorway, which opened in December 1970, starts at the M60 near Manchester and runs north-west, past Chorley and Bolton, joining the M6 to the south of Preston. Soon after its opening, the M61’s complicated layout and heavy traffic led to the nickname “Spaghetti Junction”, although 17 months later, the name became linked with the Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham instead.
Now, Gravelly Hill, at its Midland Link section on the M6, has its own world record: the most complicated British interchange. Motorists can choose from 18 routes, spread across six levels, while also navigating a diverted canal and river. Gravelly Hill cost £8.2 million to construct, using 250,000 tonnes of concrete, 26,000 tonnes of steel and 300,000 tonnes of earth – a lot of resources to build one of the UK’s most hated sections of motorway!
Driving should be an enjoyable experience and here at Driveline GB, we do our utmost to ensure our clients’ experiences are positive. We provide van and truck rental services, driver hire and B+E Driver Training as part of our comprehensive range of commercial vehicle services. As a stand-alone company, we can offer an impartial service to our client base, which includes Blue Chips, PLCs and local independent operators. Please contact us for further information.