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Britain's road works stretch from Land's End to John O'Groats

Press release: 08/03/2013

  • The average driver covers an additional 240 miles each year to avoid road works or follow diversions caused by road works[1]
  • Motorists spend extra 43 minutes in their car each week due to road works[2]
  • FOI data[3] reveals that there are currently 19,000 ongoing road works in the UK, stretching the length of Lands End to John O’Groats

Britain's road works currently stretch 834 miles, which is the equivalent of the distance between Lands End to John O’Groats.

New research from Britannia Rescue reveals that there are so many road works on British roads that drivers clock up almost 240 miles avoiding them each year, with drivers saying they now add 43 minutes to their driving time each week on average.

Over a third of the drivers questioned reported that they have seen more road works in their area in the last year, which is backed up by the data obtained by a freedom of information (FOI) request to local authorities. Official figures reveal that there are more than 19,000 separate road works currently underway and as a result, a quarter (24%) of drivers were forced to change their route to avoid these road works.

Despite the increasing number of road works, many[4] drivers believe the state of Britain’s roads is not improving. Over a fifth (22%) think that highway repairs have actually made the quality of the roads worse, with more than half (61%) saying that road quality in general is declining. In fact only 5% of drivers rate the condition of their local roads as ‘very good’.

FOI data revealed that there have been more than two million road works projects started in the UK in the last five years. Councils with some of the most ambitious road maintenance projects for the year include Essex County Council which has 6,000 road works currently underway, East Riding of Yorkshire which has 2,066 outstanding projects and the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council which has 1,815.

Table 1. Councils with some of the highest number of road works in their area[5]


Number of road works currently underway

Essex County Council


East Riding of Yorkshire Council


Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council


Lincolnshire County Council


Oxford City Council


London Borough of Hounslow


London Borough of Merton


Medway Council


Shetland Islands


London Borough of Wandsworth


Drivers feel frustrated that they often have no warning that local road works will be taking place in their area. A quarter (27%) of drivers say they have been caught up in road works where there was no advance notice of the work taking place. Sitting in road works has also led to tensions flaring on the road with one in ten motorists[5] saying they have experienced road rage from a fellow motorist, while stuck in road works.

With more cars on the road than ever, it is extremely difficult for the authorities to maintain the quality of our roads without impacting drivers. Sitting in traffic with the engine running for long periods of time can cause engine overheating and damage a car. To reduce the impact on your car, make sure it is regularly serviced and that you keep your oil and water topped up and if you are being held in traffic for more than a minute, switch the engine off.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director

For more information on Britannia Rescue, visit

Table 2. Councils with some of the longest stretches of roadworks in their area[7]

Council area

Length of current road works (miles)

Cumbria County Council


Oxford City Council


Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council


Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council


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For further information please contact: Vanessa Chance,, 0208 256 6996 / 07947 380074

Notes to editors:

The research was conducted by ICM research. ICM questions 2,000 adults, 1,288 of these were drivers.

Britannia Rescue issued Freedom of Information requests to 434 UK city, district, borough and county councils. Of these 81 responded. The FOI request asked local authorities how many outstanding road works there currently are in the area, how long they have been outstanding for and how many miles they would stretch.

About Britannia Rescue

Britannia Rescue is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue‘s network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is 41 minutes.

LV= employs 5,500 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

1.Source: ICM research. The average distance travelled by drivers avoid road works (including diversions) is two miles, and on average they encounter road works ten times in a month. Therefore the number of miles driven to avoid road works per month is 2 x 10 = 20 miles. 20 x 12 = 240 miles per year.

2.Source: ICM research. Drivers encounter road works ten times on average per month; with drivers estimating road works add 18.62 minutes on to a journey on average. 18.62 x 10 = 186.2 minutes per month. 186.2 x 12 = 2,234.4 minutes per year. 2,234.4 / 52 (weeks in a year) = 42.96 (rounded up to 43) minutes a week.

3.The Freedom of Information request was issued 24th January 2013, 81 local authorities responded.

4.Source: ICM research showed 61% of drivers say they think that the quality of roads is declining.

5.These figures are the ten highest numbers provided by the 81 councils that responded.

6.Source: ICM research showed that 12% of drivers have been affected by road rage from follow motorists as a result of road works.

7.These figures are the ten highest numbers provided by the 81 councils that responded.