With the recent announcement by the AA that a second People’s Audit of Britain’s roads is to be carried out, alongside the government’s decision this summer to name and shame those councils who have failed to increase road safety, here’s a look at some areas that deserve their reputation as having the UK’s worst roads.

Doncaster – worst safety record

A document released by the Transport Select Committee in July compared the number of road accidents within a council boundary from 2006-2010 to a record kept from 1994-1998 to check up on the progress made by those councils in reducing the number of accidents on their roads. While the list was topped by Halton in Cheshire, which demonstrated a 70% reduction in the number of roadside deaths and serious injuries, there were quite a number of councils who had performed very poorly indeed. Topping (or rather bottoming) the list is Doncaster, which has failed to record any decrease in figures in the intervening years.

The AA has called on senior councilmen to commit more resources to promoting road safety.

The M25 –most depressing drive

Readers of a motorcycle mag in summer 2010 dubbed the M25 as the most depressing stretch of road in the UK. It’s the second biggest orbital road in Europe – only Berlin possesses one that’s even more gruelling – but is perhaps better known to music fans as Chris Rea’s eponymous “road to hell”. With frequent traffic jams, soul-sapping speed cameras and the awful state of the roads themselves to blame, it’s no wonder that survey respondents felt so poorly about this particular stretch of road.

The London Orbital narrowly pipped the Birmingham stretch of the M6 to first place.

Yorkshire and the Humber – worst-kept roads

Last summer the GMB found that almost one third of roads in England required some maintenance; almost as many were in Yorkshire and the Humber region alone. Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said “It is clear from the official data that our roads are in a shocking state with almost a third needing attention. Many roads are so broken up and strewn with potholes that motorists are suffering damage to wheels and suspension, with compensation claims up by 40% in some parts of the country.

“Local authorities are cutting back on road maintenance because of the budget cuts forced on them by the government so the problem is likely to get worse. Indeed, even when repairs are being carried out it is often done on the cheap to a low standard so it’s soon in a mess again. Every community has a right to expect decent roads and councils should be recognising this as a priority.”

While Yorkshire and the Humber suffers from this problem, the AA audit found that the north-east of England was actually one of the regions which received repairs most often.

The M6 – most haunted road

A story published by the Guardian in 2006 found that the M6 had recorded more ghostly sightings than on any other stretch of the road in the UK! One respondent of the survey reported seeing Roman soldiers that were "more like upright shadows than men walking through the tarmac as you would through water."

Publications such as the Fortean Times have reported on the eerie roadside goings-on in recent history.

Dermot Kelleher


November 20, 2012