M6 declared "the worst motorway" in survey of thousands of road users by Transport Focus

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The M6 has been crowned the worst motorway in the country in a survey of thousands of drivers.

The independent watchdog Transport Focus measures people’s experiences of driving on England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads managed by National Highways.

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This year more than 9,000 road users were spoken to about a range of aspects on their journey, including overall journey experience, journey time, surface quality, roadworks management and feelings of safety.

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The M6The M6
The M6

What did people say about the M6?

Of the motorways, the M6 has the lowest level of satisfaction (66 per cent), as it did last year, although its score has improved (59 per cent in 2021/22).

In a report, Transport Focus said: “Almost half of those travelling on the M6 passed through roadworks (48 per cent versus 24 per cent for all roads) and more experienced heavier traffic (35 per cent heavy/congested versus 24 per cent for all roads) and lower levels of satisfaction with journey time (65 per cent versus 71 per cent for all roads).

One driver using the M6 said: “Terrible tarmac conditions in places, matrix signs not up to date, unwarranted smart motorway speed limits.”


According to the report, overall, 73 per cent of road users were satisfied with their last motorway or major ‘A’ road journey, an improvement on last year’s 69 per cent.

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The A303 between Basingstoke in Hampshire achieves the highest level of overall satisfaction (85 per cent), followed by the M5 and M40 (both with 82 per cent satisfied).

These three roads also top the table for satisfaction with journey time (A303 81 per cent; M5 84 per cent; M40 79 per cent).

History of the M6

The M6 motorway is the longest motorway in the UK.

It was opened on December 5 1958 as the Preston by-pass, Britain’s first stretch of motorway.

The original road cost £3m to construct, the equivalent today of £65m. It carved its way through the lush Lancashire countryside, starting to the south of Bamber Bridge, going over the River Ribble at Samlesbury and up to Broughton.

It was described by the Ministry of Transport as a ‘guinea pig’ – the test bed for all the motorways that followed.