Fun Facts About Roads in the UK

Whether you love driving or loathe it, some professions involve a life on the roads of the UK. Here are some interesting facts about the road and motorway network of the UK that you might not know:

  • The man who invented tarmac was a chap called Edward Hooley. He noticed a smooth surface outside an ironworks in 1901 and when he asked what had caused it, he was told that a barrel of tar had spilled. The following year, he patented the method of heating tar, adding slag and breaking stones into the substance which resulted in the creation of tarmac that we see on all roads today.
  • The longest motorway in the UK is the M6 which runs from Catthorpe in Leicestershire up to the border with Scotland. It’s an impressive 236 miles long.

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  • The first motorway to open in the UK was the M6 Preston Bypass which ran for 8 miles and opened in 1958.
  • When the M1 was first opened in 1959, it was a lot more dangerous than it is now. There were no crash barriers, lighting, speed limits or central reservation!
  • The country’s first roads were built during the period of Roman occupation between 43 and 410 AD. Famous for their long, straight stretches, these roads were constructed for the transportation of trade goods and the military.
  • Many hundreds of people are employed up and down the country to work on the maintenance and safety of the highways. Britain has over 200,000 miles of roads and motorways that need constant monitoring and upkeep.

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  • If you think potholes are bad in your local area you might not be surprised to find out that potholes account for 33% of all mechanical vehicle problems in the country. This damage is said to cost the motorists approximately £2.8 billion each year.
  • We have had pedestrian crossings on our roads since 1943 but they only started being painted black and white in 1951.
  • Get stuck in rush hour every day? Spare a thought for motorists in London who spend an average of 101 hours every year stuck in traffic jams. The rest of the UK suffer only 30 hours a year. For those who are employed as drivers, this figure will be significantly higher. For Same Day Courier Slough, visit
  • Do you believe in ghosts? With Halloween fast approaching, you might want to take a drive up the M6 on October 31st as it’s one of the most haunted roads in the country! There are an unusually high number of reported ghost sightings on this stretch of motorway, from Roman soldiers to a crazy woman at the side of the road.
  • If all of the potholes on our roads were joined together, they would make a hole the size of the Isle of Wight!
  • The first ever traffic lights were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. They were gas-lit and had to be manually operated back in 1868.
The author is an expert on occupational training and a prolific writer who writes extensively on Business, technology, and education. He can be contacted for professional advice in matters related with occupation and training on his blog Communal Business and Your Business Magazine.