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Love and loathing in the middle lane
By Alan Hamilton
Some motorways may drive you mad, but the original M1 is miles ahead as the nation's favourite

THEY wind up our stress levels, make us late for appointments and cause us to miss flights. Yet for all their congestion, hold-ups, roadworks and sheer bad driving, most drivers have a favourite motorway.

There can be few unlikelier topics for a popularity poll, but this is the start of National Motorway Month, an attempt by motoring organisations to improve our driving.

Had not the US television industry already coined the word for its equivalent of the Oscars, an award for the most popular motorway might be called an Emmy. And this year’s winner would be is the M1, with more nominations than any other contender in a survey of 500 motorists conducted for the RAC Foundation. Next most popular after our old original M from London to Leeds was the M4 to South Wales, followed by the M5 to the West Country, the M6 to the northwest and the M40, which rolls its way to Birmingham by way of Thame and Bicester.

But no motorway is universally liked. Many of the drivers surveyed did not care for the M6 at all, and even the M1 figured in the list of least favourites, along with the M62 across the Pennines. There is no doubt as to which is the most disliked motorway, with one third of all drivers expressing their loathing for the M25.

[color=dark-blue]The main factors in choosing a favourite were lack of traffic and congestion, an easy route to visit family and friends and a route to a holiday destination. The M25, by contrast, just leads you round in circles — sometimes very slowly.[/color]

The 500 drivers questioned also vented their ire on other drivers’ bad motorway habits. Driving too close to the car in front topped the list, followed by talking on a mobile phone, cutting across all three lanes to reach an exit and permanent residents of the middle lane.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: “National Motorway Month was a success last year in raising motorists’ awareness of road safety issues on the motorway network. Although motorways are our safest roads, when accidents happen they can have dire consequences.” The Highways Agency, which manages England’s main arterial routes, has a cunning plan to make us love our motorways more, including the M25, Britain’s busiest, with the introduction yesterday of “jambusters” on its congested western and southern sections. Uniformed traffic officers, employed by the Highways Agency rather than the police, have powers to take steps to get traffic moving, and work in conjunction with police forces and roadside rescue and recovery organisations. They also began work yesterday on the M3 in Surrey and the M23 in Sussex.

Already in action on motorways in the West Midlands, the jambuster programme will gradually be introduced across England, and will eventually comprise 1,500 traffic officers. They have been welcomed by police. Brian Moore, deputy Chief Constable of Surrey Police, said that their presence would free his officers to concentrate on tackling crime.

So remember, as you cruise your favourite motorway, that while jambusters won’t arrest you, the Old Bill may still flag you down for talking on that phone. Unless, of course, you are stuck in an unbusted jam.

[color=dark-red]Top tarmac

M1 London to Leeds
M4 London to South Wales
M5 London to West Country
M6 London to the North West
M40 London to Birmingham

And the worst . . .

M25 Orbital

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Initially concentrate on motorways but i think if we expand it to "A roads" as well, it'll be more interesting. You don't have to stay restricted to only the factors mentioned in the article, you could also inclue the scenerey that you drive past.

Maybe doa survey of WHTers for their best and worst service stations too....well??

I don't know if the M6 Toll or basically the bypass around Birmingham icomes under the M6 nomination on the list though, i doubt it. It's not cheap but when we're driving to Manchester, it can be a huge help and we use it quite a bit now on that route. Although like a well known Breakfast radio presenter here in Britain likes to say, you can always use the A50 past Stoke if not. HA.


Opinions?? Comments??