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Adam Jolley

Motorway closures add an extra 38 minutes to journey times


Frustrated drivers are facing delays and long diversions as a result of increasing motorway maintenance projects.

M4 motorway

Drivers across the country are facing an average of 382 planned motorway closures a month. 

That’s according to new data obtained by via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

These maintenance projects are having a direct impact on journeys, drivers say.

A diversion as a result of a closure, for example, will typically take a driver 14 miles out of his or her way, adding an extra 38 minutes to the length of their journey. 

Drivers stuck for up to two hours

More than 90% of UK drivers have experienced a maintenance lane closure on the motorway, with drivers naming and shaming the M6 as the worst for closures.

Over two-thirds (67%) have had had to find an alternative route due to a diversion.

However, for those unable to find an another way, a lengthy delay often awaits. 

A frustrated 18% of drivers say the longest amount of time they have been stuck on the motorway is over two hours.

Top five most frustrating motorways

The research can reveal the motorways which drivers find most frustrating when it comes to lane closures. 

1. M6 (17%)
2. M1 (16%)
3. M25 (12%)
4. M5 (7%)
5. M4 (6%)

Number of closures up 16% since 2014

Worryingly for motorists, maintenance projects on the motorway appear to be on the rise.

The average number of closures per month is up 16% since 2014, according to the FOI data. 

This year, motorways across England, Scotland and Wales have seen 382 closures every month to date, compared to an average of 329 two years ago. 

Even though 45% of drivers would like to see fewer motorway closures, the sheer number of projects may come as a surprise. 

41% of drivers disrupted every month

Only 19% of drivers guessed correctly there were 16 motorways or more undergoing maintenance works at the time of survey. 

Given the scale of motorway maintenance projects currently underway in the UK, it’s telling that 41% of drivers – equivalent to more than two out of five – experience lane closures at least every month. 

This figure includes 15% of drivers who are faced with motorway lane closures either every day or every week. 

Even so, 25% of drivers admit they never check for disruption ahead of travelling on the motorway. 

Radio still top source of traffic news

Of those who do keep up to date with motorway closures, listening to the radio is the most popular method among over half – 52% – of motorists. 

Websites such as Highways England and BBC Motorway Traffic news are also popular, with 38% using them to keep track of motorway closures.

Despite many motorists planning ahead, for some, closures for road maintenance are an unavoidable situation. 

For those unlucky drivers caught out by motorway closures, 56% will follow the sign-posted diversions. 

However, 36% – or just over a third – will use their cunning and knowledge of surrounding roads to outwit the diverted route.


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