The slowest motorways in England
They play a vital role in keeping our towns and cities connected and keeping the country on the move, but motorways can also be infuriating, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic.
But which are the slowest sections of motorway in the country, where you’ll be lucky if you even manage to get up to 45 mph? We’ve looked at the average speeds on England’s motorway network to find out.
The latest data available refers to 2020, a year in which there were of course fewer cars on the road than for many years, so average speeds were much higher than usual.
(Note that these speeds refer to traffic at all times of day, so will be even slower during rush hour.)
The slowest motorways in England
13 of the slowest sections of motorway in the country were found on the M4, originally known as the London-South Wales Motorway.
The majority of these sections were found in Hounslow, London, with the very slowest of them all being the section between Brentford and Chiswick, which had an average speed of just 33 miles per hour. All of these sections are notably close by to Heathrow Airport, which is the likely reason why speeds are so slow.
The M60 is better known as either the Manchester Ring Motorway or Manchester Outer Ring Road and as the name suggests, circles the city of Manchester and contains seven of the 50 slowest motorway sections.
The traffic on this popular Northern motorway heads right past the popular Trafford Centre, a large indoor shopping centre and leisure complex, which attracts millions of visitors each year, as well as traffic heading into the city centre from popular towns and cities on Manchester’s outskirts.
Six of the slowest sections of motorway were found on the M25, also known as the London Orbital Motorway (as well as ‘Britain’s Largest Car Park’ and ‘The Road to Hell…’).
The main problem here is the area around the northbound approach to the Dartford Crossing, which is notorious for congestion, where lots of local traffic, as well as cars from as far away as Continental Europe, all queue to get through two tunnels.
England’s longest motorway is also home to six of the slowest sections, all located in the West Midlands, specifically around the Ray Hall interchange, which is located between the busy cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but also meets all of the traffic coming from London to North West England, as well as pretty much all of the traffic coming off the M5.
The final motorway which is home to six of the slowest sections is the M62, which spans across the Pennines from Liverpool to Hull (via Manchester and Leeds).
The section around Eccles is particularly well-known for gridlock, with cars from three of the biggest cities in the North all passing through, and lots of warehouses in the Manchester and Leeds areas with HGVs heading out to the ports of Merseyside and the Humber.
The areas with the slowest motorways
So, we know the individual stretches of motorway which are the slowest in the country, but which parts of England have the lowest average speed across their whole motorway network?
That dubious honour goes to Hounslow, in London, which sees much of the traffic pass through en route to Heathrow Airport and had an average speed of 45.7 miles per hour on all motorway sections in the borough.
This was followed by Reading, which the M4 runs through (52.2 miles per hour) and nearby Slough (52.9 miles per hour).
All data sourced from the Department for Transport’s Road Congestion Statistics (Table CGN0401b), which shows the average speeds 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.
All data relates to 2020, therefore average speeds will likely be higher than usual due to fewer cars being on the roads throughout the coronavirus pandemic.