Our Love-Hate Relationship With Motorways

Sixty per cent of motorists have a favourite motorway - with the M1 coming out tops according to an NOP Automotive Survey for the RAC Foundation to start National Motorway Month.

One third of drivers said the M25 is their least favourite motorway to drive on, followed by 15 per cent who cited the M6 as the road they love to hate. These motorways are also the nation’s busiest, suggesting that congestion and volume of traffic on motorways are key to deciding the least favoured. However a love-hate relationship exists as some motorways polled in the favourite top ten as well as in the least favourite top ten motorways. *

National Motorway Month is a joint initiative by RAC Foundation, Auto Express Magazine, IAM and BSM to encourage safer driving on our motorways. The campaign will run through the busy holiday month of August.

When asked which of the following factors were most important in deciding which was their favourite motorway, respondents replied:

  • 23 % - lack of traffic/congestion.
  • 14 % - route to visit family/friends.
  • 7 % - route to holiday destination.
  • 5 % - nice scenery.
  • 5% - best work commute route
  • 4% - quiet road surface.
  • 1 % - plenty of service areas.

The survey also asked what motorists think is the worst driving habit on the motorway:

  • 29 % said motorists who drive too close to the car in front.
  • 20 % motorists who drive while talking on their mobile phone
  • 15% motorists who suddenly cut across all three lanes to exit the motorway.
  • 13 % said motorists who hog the middle lane.

In 2004, National Motorway Month covered the themes of tailgating, middle lane hogs, nervous drivers and driver fatigue. In 2005 the campaign will focus on:

  • Worst driving habits
  • Causes of congestion
  • Causes of accidents
  • Standards of driving on motorways.

Key findings from campaign last year were:

  • Over 40 per cent of motorists drive too close to the car in front on motorways.
  • One-third of lane capacity is being wasted at peak times due to poor lane discipline on the motorways.
  • More than 50 per cent of motorists habitually drive for more than two hours on long motorway journeys without taking a break.
  • More than one-third (ten million) drivers admit to regular feelings of anxiety when driving or considering driving on the motorways.

Edmund King, Executive Director of the RAC Foundation said:

"National Motorway Month was a success last year in raising motorists awareness of road safety issues on the motorway network.

"Although motorways are our safest roads, when accidents happen they can have dire consequences in terms of death and delays. Motorists seem to have a love- hate relationship with motorways. They love them for getting around quickly, going on holiday or visiting family but hate getting caught up in congestion."

Ginny Clarke of the Highways Agency, which manages England's motorways and major A roads, said:

"We welcome National Motorway Month as an opportunity for everyone - drivers, transport stakeholders, and the Highways Agency - to focus on making our roads safer. We are working to keep the UK’s motorways among the safest in the world.

"The Highways Agency’s plans include better management of the traffic on our network. Our new Traffic Officers are being introduced around the country and we have a programme of improvements, including plans for improving the M25 and the M6.

"Drivers can help by checking their route for delays before they travel, and considering how their driving habits affect themselves and others."

1 August 2005 Staff

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