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15 Bits of Road-Based Trivia You Probably Didn’t Know

By Mark Salisbury
Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 08:38

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From the longest and oldest to the deadliest and most troublesome, a list of 15 of the most eye-opening bits of road-based trivia has been revealed.

Motoring giant LeaseCar.uk has researched some of the most surprising facts and figures to do with roads and driving in a bid to educate and inspire the country’s road users.

Millions of Brits take to and rely on the UK’s roads every day, but a surprising number will have little-to-no knowledge of their history.

Tim Alcock from LeaseCar.uk commented: “As busy Brits, we seem to take our incredible road network for granted, not realising that a little over 100 years ago the landscape would have looked very different.

“The first tarmac road wasn’t built until 1902, for example, and even then, it would have looked basic and been a pain to drive on compared to those we have now.

“If nothing else, these snippets of trivia will hopefully come in useful for those attending pub quizzes with friends and family!”

  1. The UK’s oldest road is the Ridgeway dating back more than 5,000 years and stretching from Wiltshire to Berkshire.
  2. The world’s first tarmac road was built in 1902 in Nottingham – what is now Radcliffe Road.
  3. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the worst ever traffic jam to date was on the 5th April in 1985, when there was a 40-mile hold up on the M1. It snaked all the way from junction 16 to 18, leaving hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars for hours.
  4. Australia’s Highway 1 is the longest road in the world, stretching more than 9,000 miles.
  5. The most dangerous road in the world is in Bolivia. The North Yungus Road, a 35-mile stretch between La Paz and Coroico is also known as Death Road, as the single-lane track is estimated to take the lives of around 300 drivers each year.
  6. The UK Highway Code will be 87 this year. First published in 1931 and costing just one penny, this edition contained just 18 pages of advice – it runs to 145 pages today – and didn’t mention mirrors.
  7. The UK’s first motorway opened in 1958 and stretched for just eight miles – this was known as the M6 Preston Bypass.
  8. The first pedestrian killed by a car in the UK was Bridget Driscoll, 44, of Croydon in 1896.
  9. When the M1 first opened on 2nd of November 1959, it was a death trap. There was no noted speed limit, crash barriers, central reservation or even lighting!
  10. Potholes account for a third of mechanical issues on UK roads, costing British motorists an estimated £2.8 billion each year.
  11. Last year, the UK driving test had just a 47.3% pass rate.
  12. The total road length in Great Britain was estimated to be 245,400 miles in 2012. This means that if you could lay all those roads out in a straight line into space, you’d go past the moon, which is 238,855 miles from Earth.
  13. A 2016 study of more than 100 cities suggests that British roads are the most congested in Europe.
  14. Taking DIY to the ultimate extreme, in 2014 a businessman from Bath built his own toll road through fields to avoid delays caused by work on a route near his home. Hoping to recoup the cost of the road, he began charging drivers £2 per journey.
  15. Japan issues one of the world’s hardest driving tests. Learners must be over 18, and the test is taken on a simulated course. A fail can result before the driver even gets in the car – if they don’t bend down low enough to check underneath for cats.

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