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Did You Know This About Your Roads?

Here’s a round trip of the investment planned for our roads in the coming years – and what you can do if you need to complain.


First, some history

Roads date back to 3500 BC, originating in the Middle East. The earliest roads that were built in Britain are thought to have been constructed during the Iron Age (800 BC to 100 AD) and were expanded during the Roman occupation. Most roads are made out of asphalt concrete now but many years ago they were made out of dirt. Many have reported that it takes several years for one road to be built because before the actual construction begins, it takes years of research to decide if the road will make an environmental, social and economic impact.

Road speed

There are three major speeds on the roads in the UK:

  • Limit on most roads in the UK with street lighting is 30mph
  • National speed limit on single carriageways is 60mph
  • Dual carriageways and motorways allow up to 70mph
Before the setting of the 30mph rule became law in 1934, there were 4 times as many road related deaths. Local councils can set speed limits – for example, some residential areas now have a speed limit of 20mph. Speed limits around the world on motorways also vary for example:
  • Abu Dhabi – 87mph
  • Germany – no speed limit but recommended is 81mph
  • New Zealand – 62.5mph (Equivalent to 100km/h)
  • China – 75mph

Road conditions

Traffic in the UK has doubled since 1976 while the infrastructure of the roads have deteriorated – our roads were ranked in the ‘Global Competitiveness Index 2014’ at a disappointing 30th place, ranked behind countries such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. This was despite a £4.2 billion spend in 2013-2014 on the maintenance of roads in England.

The future for our roads

Numbers of road users are increasing daily, and road surfaces are suffering. To improve this, the Transport Secretary proposed that they would fund improvements around the country. In June 2013 the government announced:

  • Investment of £15.1 billion in strategic roads by 2021 to compensate the effects of past underinvestment
  • A further 221 lane miles of extra capacity to their busiest motorways
  • Although locally managed roads are the responsibility of local authorities, in 2013 the Chancellor announced that it would spend £6 billion over the course of the next parliament to tackle maintenance
  • At the end of 2014, £6 billion was earmarked for tackling potholes and improving the local roads between 2015 and 2021

How to complain about your roads

Badly maintained roads can affect the value of your car. County councils and metropolitan borough councils are responsible for the roads in the regions, so if you have a complaint to make about the condition of a road near you, your council is your first stop.

If you’d like to find out about other ways the value of your car can be affected, read our blog How much is your car worth?

Did you know this about British roads?, Motorways