Worst & Slowest British Roads revealed

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Photo: Google Maps

The slowest, most delayed and worst maintained roads in England have been uncovered in research by Forbes Advisor, the price comparison and financial guidance platform. Using Department for Transport data, analysts pinpointed where in the country motorists are most likely to be held up for the longest time and move at the slowest average speeds.

And with findings just released showing 22,600 miles of the road network in England and Wales is in ‘poor’ overall condition – almost the equivalent length of the equator – and the cost of bringing it up to scratch would now top £14 billion, the research also looked at where highways are in the worst state.

Forbes Advisor looked at where motorists are most likely to suffer lengthy delays and move at the slowest average speeds on England’s Strategic Road Network – the country’s biggest roads which carry about two-thirds of the nation’s daily traffic.

The slowest stretch of major road in the country, with an average speed throughout 2022 of just 8.4mph, is a 1.2mile section of the A49 in Shropshire. That same stretch is also the nation’s most-delayed – motorists lose a massive 305 seconds, or more than five minutes – per mile there, on average. That’s more than 40 seconds per mile more than the next worst, a 1500m stretch of the A627(M) outside Rochdale, where traffic crawls at 10.1mph on average.

Different stretches of the A49 in and around the same area make up no fewer than six of the slowest 10 stretches of road for average speeds, and five of the worst 10 for time lost to delays.

Taking major roads in their entirety, it’s drivers using the A2270 near Eastbourne in East Sussex who lose the most time to delays – 173 seconds, or almost three minutes – per mile on average. Across its whole length, about four miles, it’s also the slowest road in Britain with the average speed there measured at 13.7mph.

The A57, which runs in stretches from Lincoln to Liverpool, was found to be the second slowest major road with drivers averaging 16.6mph and the A335 near Southampton was next at 18.4mph. Those same three roads saw the longest delays too – the A2270 at 173 seconds lost per mile, the A335 at 136 and the A57 at 97.

The condition of ‘A’ roads and, separately, ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads for each responsible local authority is surveyed every year and categorised as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’, where:

  • Green: no further investigation or work is needed
  • Amber: maintenance may be needed soon
  • Red: should be considered for maintenance. Treatment may or may not be required, but the road should be investigated fully

Derbyshire County Council had the highest percentage of carriageways in both categories – ‘A’, and ‘B and C’ roads – flagged as red in the most recent survey, published in November 2022, with 20% of its ‘A’ roads and 24% of its ‘B and C’ roads marked as requiring maintenance.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council had the best ‘A’ roads – none were flagged ‘red’ and 95% were ‘green’. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Middlesbrough Council came out joint top for ‘B and C’ roads – 88% were categorised ‘green’ and only 1% ‘red’ for both authorities.