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UK's Top 10 Busiest Roads

There are different ways of measuring traffic levels.

Annual Average Daily Flow or AADF for short is one and Traffic Volume is a second way.

Annual Average Daily Flow (AADF) is the daily vehicle average over the course of a year on a particular stretch of road.

Traffic Volume is the total volume of traffic on a stretch of road for the whole year and is calculated by multiplying AADF x  length of road x 365 (or 366 in a leap year).

Graph of the UK's Top 10 Busiest Roads During 2013




The graph shows the top 10 UK business roads reading the colour coded descriptions from left to right and downwards.

This above graph actually refers to the top 10 busiest sections of UK roads, highlighting the traffic hotspots.

So the M25 around Junctions 14 and 15 where to two busiest stretches of UK road during 2013.

In fact the M25 between junctions 11 and 16 are the top 5 busiest strectchs of road in the UK with annual average daily flow of all vehicles from 187,116 vehicles at M25 Junction 11 and 12 up to 227,585 vehicles on the Junction 14 to 15 stretch.

As you can see on a map of the M25 junctions these stretches of the M25 motorway run up and down the western side of the M25 around the Heathrow area.

Around 72.3 Million passengers arrived at or departed from Heathrow during 2013, which was Heathrow's busiest year on record, of which 26 million or 37% never left the airport taking connecting flights. That still leaves just over 46 million passengers exiting Heathrow airport into the local area during 2013 of which are fair proportion would travel by road. The busiest day on record at Heathrow was 30 June 2013 with 238,949 passengers that day. The average 63% leaving the airport would have meant that around 150,000 exited or aarrived at Heathrow that day, some on public transport into London and others entering the road network locally.

On top of the passangers travelling in and out of Heathrow are the people employed at Heathrow. There are approximately 77,000 people working within the Heathrow Airport boundaries and many more in the local area making the western side of the M25 motorway a very busy stretch of motorway.

The M1 Junctions 7 and 8 (Hatfield and Hemel Hempstead) was the 6th busiest stretch of UK road.

The M60 motorway around Manchester at Junctions 12 and 13 was the 7th busiest stretch of UK road where it connects to the M62 motoway to Liverpool.

The remaining top three of the top 10 busiest stretches of UK roads are on on the western side of the M25 motorway.

Cars and taxi cabs far outnumbering other vehicle types.

List of Top 10 Busiest Roads


A list of roads that have the busiest traffic at some part of that road the list of the top 10 busiest roads would be as follows:

  1. M25 (various junctions)
  2. M1 (junctions 7 and 8 and other junctions)
  3. M60 (junctions 12 and 13 and other junctions)
  4. M8 (junctions 4 to 6)
  5. M4 (junctions 4 and 4B and other junctions)
  6. M6 (junctions 20 and 21 and other junctions)
  7. M56 (junctions 3 and 4)
  8. M61 (junctions 2 and 3)
  9. A406 (Redbridge and Waltham Forest)
  10. M42 (junctions 6 to 7A)
But as some of these individual roads stretch a long way with quieter and busier sections a list of this type does not really accurately pin point the traffic hot spots in the same way.

Traffic statistics are based on Department for Transport figures and Heathrow figures are based on Heathrow Airports public facts and figures.


The Number of Fatal Accidents on UK Roads Has Fallen Over the Last 20 years

Every death on UK roads is a tragegy and so many could have been avoided with more care by drivers and other road users.

The number of fatal accidents has dropped over the last 20 years quite substantially which is good progess but we can do better.



In 1992 the number of fatal accidents on UK roads was 4,992.

In 2012 the number of fatal accidents had fallen to 1,754 which is a drop of 35% in 20 years.

Drive carefully, stay alert and be considerate to other road users and hopefully we can all see the number of fatalities keep falling over the next 20 years.

What is the Ratio of Different Types of Vehicles on UK Roads?

OK so we have previously posted in our blog that as of 2013 cars made up around 83% of the 35 Million vehicles registered and licensed for use on UK roads according to DVLA statistics.

But what is the ratio between different types of vehicles?

Cars actually made up 83.2% of vehicles on UK roads in 2013.

HGV's just 1.3% although it might not feel like it at times!

Bus and coaches 0.5%

Vans 9.6% (otherwise known a tailgaters)

Motorcycles 3.5%

Since 1994 cars have increased by 37%, vans (and light goods vehicles) have increased by 57% and motorcycles by 69%

There was a higher rate of increase in motorcycles up to 2010 but the % motorcycles to overall vehicles has declined slightly since 2010, the same applies to HGVs and buses with only cars and vans increasing year on year since 1994.

Since approximately the year 2000 vans as a % of overall vehicles have increased at a faster rate than other vehicle types.

Chart of UK Vehicles to UK Population 1992 to 2012

The following is a chart of the number of vehicles registered for use on UK roads to the number of UK population between 1992 and 2012.




The number of vehicles registered on UK roads has increased by 9.6 million between 1992 and 2012 or a rise of 38.5%.

The number of people living in the UK has increased by 6 million between 1992 and 2012 or a rise of 10.7%.

20 years ago vehicles to population percentage was 44.5%

in 2012 the ratio of vehicles to population had increased to 55.7% and increase of 11% on 1992.

The rise in two car families contributing to the increase in cars registered on UK roads in the last 20 years.

Has Congestion On UK Roads Got Worse?

When you are sat in a pile of traffic do you sit there thinking the traffic and traffic congestion is getting worse?

Did you know that Local ‘A’ roads account for around 9% of all roads in England, but carry around a third of all traffic around England.

Increase in Congestion in England in 2013


The Government measures a traffic speed using in-vehicle GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to record journey times and the number of vehicles using automatic traffic counters.

Peak period is officially classed as between 7am to 10am weekdays Monday to Friday and during peak periods in the 21 months ended December 2013 average speeds have fallen steadily which is an indication of increased congestions.

So is this due to an increase in the number of cars or vehicles on 'A' roads?

The downward trend in average traffic speed and increase in congestion over this period is at least partly due to the level of rainfall over the last 21 months. According to the Met Office 2012 was the wettest year on record in England and the first three months of 2013 were wetter than each of the same months in 2012. A good indicator that weather conditions are at least partly to blame with January 2013 particularly being affected by snow.

In more recent months more cars were reported to be using 'A' roads which also contributed to congestion and reductions in average speed. However this is perhaps as weather conditions were slightly better more drivers were prepared to venture out rather than during bad weather months.

Increase in Number of Vehicles on the Road

The DVLA reported that there were 35.0 Million vehicles registered and licensed on the road in Great Britain at the end of 2013 which is a 1.5% increase on 2012 and the biggest annual increase since 2007. Just of 29 Million of the licenced vehicles were cars or around 83%.

It would therefore be wrong to totally blame the weather due to the rise in number of vehicles licensed for road use.

The number of vehicles licensed each year rose at a faster rate between 1994 and 2005 and although increasing every year since 2005 is at a slower rate compared to pre 2005. The recession no doubt having an effect on this.

Conclusion and looking forward

It would perhaps be fair to conclude that a mixture of the increase number of cars and vehicles licensed to use the roads in Great Britain and the particularly bad weather conditions during 2012 and 2013 have both contributed to the increased level of congestion on UK roads and slower average traffic speeds in peak periods.

As the UK comes out of recession it is likely the number of vehicles licensed for road use will increase and this is unlikely to mean congestion is going to reduce and if weather conditions in 2014 and 2015 are wet or poor like 2012 and 2013 that will only make matters even worse.