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Slowest Motorways in England

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
9 MAY 2023
5 min read
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Whether you’re visiting friends and family, heading off on holiday, or driving your daily commute, motorways are what keep us all connected. On good days, they keep the country moving, but motorways can also be incredibly frustrating, especially when you find yourself stuck in traffic.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at which motorways across England have the slowest average speeds, and where you might expect to be held up with the longest delays. Alongside this, we’ve analysed which particular months see the slowest speeds and the longest delays, which might just help you decide on when to take that trip you’ve been planning, or which routes to avoid.

(Note that these speeds and delay times are taken as an average across the whole day, so during rush hour, it’s likely that speeds will be slower and delays will be longer.)

Which motorways in England are the slowest moving?


Considered one of England’s shortest motorways at just 0.6 miles long, the A308(M) in Maidenhead was also found to be one of the slowest motorways in England, with average speeds of just 30.8 miles per hour. These speeds are less than half of the actual speed limit, which is 70mph across all of the UK’s motorways.

Acting as a connector between the A308 and the M4/A404(M), both eastbound and westbound sections of the motorway register some of the slowest speeds in the country, with the westbound section reaching average speeds of just 25.8 miles per hour.


More commonly known as the Aston Expressway, the A38(M) connects the M6 to central Birmingham and forms part of the longer A38.

Despite its unusual layout, with three lanes each way that changes to a 4:2 lane balance at peak hours to deal with the extra traffic in and out of Birmingham, it registers one of the slowest average speeds of just 44.2 miles per hour.

The road connects lots of the towns on Birmingham’s northern outskirts with the busy city centre, and heads right past Villa Park football stadium which will heavily affect traffic on home game days.


As the only purpose-built road from the motorway to Bristol city centre, the M32 is prone to heavy congestion and reaches overall average speeds of just 48 miles per hour.

The M32 is also home to one of the slowest sections of motorway in England, with the southbound section around Junction 3 reaching speeds of just 26 miles per hour on average.


Acting as a connector between the M180 and Scunthorpe city centre, the M181 has come out as the fourth slowest motorway in England. With a length of just one mile, average speeds on this motorway only reach as high as 48.6 miles per hour.


Home of the slowest section of motorway in the whole of England, the A627(M) connects the towns of Oldham and Rochdale to the M62.

Thanks to its interchange with the M62, which features a large roundabout and traffic lights, traffic is often heavy along this 6-mile motorway, with average speeds as low as 10.1 miles per hour between the M62 and Rochdale.

Average speed per motorway ranked lowest to highest
Rank Motorway Average speed (mph)
1 A308(M) 30.8
2 A38(M) 44.2
3 M32 48.0
4 M181 48.6
5 A627(M) 49.0
6 M621 49.8
7 M602 53.3
8 M67 53.8
9 M606 53.9
10 M60 54.5
11 M25 55.3
12 M48 57.1
13 M275 57.8
14 M56 58.0
15 A194(M) 58.2

We’ve looked at the slowest motorways across the country, as well as the slowest individual motorway sections, but which of England’s regions are home to the lowest average speed across their whole motorway network?

Unsurprisingly, our capital city is home to the slowest collection of motorways in the country, with average speeds of 50.8 miles per hour. Perhaps thanks to its direct route past Heathrow Airport, the M4 around Hounslow is the slowest section of all of London’s motorways, with speeds reaching just 22.7 miles per hour. Heading directly into north London, the M1 Southbound is not far behind it with average speeds of 22.8 miles per hour.

This was followed by the East of England, with average speeds of 58.2 miles per hour, and Yorkshire and The Humber, which reaches average speeds of 59 miles per hour.

Average speed per region ranked lowest to highest
Rank Motorway Average speed 2022 (mph)
1 London 50.8
2 East of England 58.2
3 Yorkshire and The Humber 59.0
4 North West  59.2
5 North East 59.6
6 South East 60.2
7 West Midlands 60.4
8 East Midlands 62.2
9 South West 62.4

It will come as no surprise that England’s slowest motorways also have some of the longest delay times, with low speeds usually related to traffic issues and congestion.

The A303(M) is not only the slowest motorway, but also has the longest delay time of 65.4 seconds per vehicle per mile (spvpm). This means that for every mile you travel on the road, you’re delayed an additional 65 seconds, compared with if traffic was free flowing. Following closely behind is the M181 with delays reaching 22.7 spvpm, and in third is the A627(M) with delays of 22.1 spvpm on average.

Average delay per motorway ranked highest to lowest
Rank Motorway Average delay
(seconds per vehicle per mile)
1 A308(M) 65.4
2 M181 22.7
3 A627(M) 22.1
4 M32 21.2
5 M602 16.1
6 M67 15.6
7 M606 15.4
8 M60 14.4
9 A38(M) 13.6
10 M25 13.1
11 M48 11.8
12 M621 11.1
13 M275 10.9
14 M56 10.8
15 A194(M) 10.7

Regions with the most delays on motorways

As well as being home to some of the slowest motorways in the country, London also has the longest delay times across its multiple motorways, with average delays of 13.8 spvpm.

Those in the north can also expect to experience heavy delays on their travels, with the North East averaging delays of 8.6 spvpm, closely followed by the North West with delays of 8.2 spvpm.

The East Midlands boasts the shortest delay times of all regions across England, with delays of just 4 spvpm on its motorway network.

Average delay per region ranked highest to lowest
Rank Motorway Average delay 2022
(seconds per vehicle per mile)
1 London 13.8
2 North East 8.6
3 North West 8.2
4 Yorkshire and The Humber 7.0
5 South East 6.3
6 East of England 6.0
7 West Midlands 5.9
8 South West 4.1
9 East Midlands 4.0

Winter months October, November, and December came out as the slowest months for motorway traffic, and also have the longest delay times. Winter weather can have a big impact on driving conditions, with fog, icy roads, and heavy rain leading to increased risk of accidents, and therefore delays. Drivers also tend to be more cautious with speeds during adverse weather conditions, which will bring down overall speeds on the road.

April and May are the fastest months on England’s motorways, and also boast the shortest delay times. This is perhaps because the Spring months tend to offer better driving conditions and are also outside of the school summer holidays – meaning less chance of holiday traffic.

Average speeds and delays per month
Month Average speed (mph) Average delay (spvpm)
January 59.2 8.2
February 58.5 8.9
March 59 8.4
April 59.8 7.7
May 59.5 8
June 59.2 8.2
July 59 8.4
August 58.6 8.9
September 58.8 8.7
October 58.4 9
November 57.7 9.7
December 58.4 9


All data sourced from the Department for Transport’s Road Congestion Statistics (Table CGN0404 and Table CGN0405), which shows the average speeds and the average delay of cars on England’s Strategic Road Network (although we just looked at motorways).

The data is collected by the Highways England National Traffic Information Service (NTIS) and tracks a sample of car vehicles across the full 24 hours of the day so that it’s representative of traffic volumes on the roads in different locations and at different times of the day.