For a while now, our team has been fascinated by the amount of accident report data that is being inputted into the GPS navigation app, Waze. Waze is very similar to other GPS sat-nav programs, but it has over 100 million users across the globe, all uploading fresh data around route times, traffic jams and road accidents and hazards.
Over the period of March to July 2021 (when lockdown restrictions were eased in the UK) we worked with a data analyst to record and study how the increased use of roads impacted the number of hazards, accidents and traffic jams.
Our resulting Waze Report reveals which roads in the UK (so far this year) are the most hazardous, policed, accident prone, closed or regularly hit by traffic jams.
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The Most Hazardous UK Roads
Waze users can submit a hazard report for anything potentially dangerous either on the main road, or on the road’s shoulder such as stopped vehicles, potholes or foreign objects. Hazard reports can also be weather based, such as snowy roads, fog, hail, floods and ice.
The road with the most reported hazards so far in 2021 is the A27, a southerly road which runs from Whiteparish in the west, to Pevensey in the east. Bearing in mind how short the road is compared to other major UK roads, Waze users reported nearly 3,000 hazards on the stretch between March and July this year – amounting to 45 hazards per mile!
The second most hazardous road in the UK is a major road in the East Midlands, the A52, which starts at Newcastle-under-Lyme (near Stoke-on-Trent) and runs east 42 miles to Lincolnshire’s east coast. The A52 is roughly 146 miles long and since the 2021 lockdown restrictions eased, it has had 4,885 hazards reported by Waze users (33 hazards per mile).
The UK’s third most hazardous road is the A259, which according to Wikipedia, is renowned as being one of the most dangerous roads in the South of England, due to lots of use by HGVs, congestion and disruption.
These are the roads in the UK which have had the highest number of hazards reported via Waze, since lockdown restrictions started to ease this year (i.e. from March 2021).
This Year’s Most Hazardous UK Roads According to Waze
|Rank||Road||Number of Hazards Reported on Waze (Mar – Jul 2021)||Road Length (miles)||Hazards Reported Per Mile|
Road Closure Frequency in the UK
Road closures may or may not be related to lockdown restrictions easing, but anecdotally we know that lots of roadworks have been carried out whilst traffic has been quieter. Roads that have been closed or partially closed the most during March to July this year include the A900 in Edinburgh, the A38 which connects Cornwall and Nottinghamshire, and the A847 on Scotland’s Isle of Islay.
This Year’s Most Closed UK Roads According to Waze
|Rank||Road||Number of Times Road Closed |
The Most Policed Roads in the UK
The Manchester Ring is the most policed road in the UK, according to Waze reports at least. Since the start of lockdown lifting in March, there has been nearly 140 police sightings recorded on the traffic app for this orbital motorway – a high amount considering the road is only 24 miles long as this equals 4 police sightings per mile!
The next most policed roads are in the south of the country. The second road to have the most police sightings this year, according to Waze users, is the A23, which runs between London and Brighton. Famous for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the road is used heavily by day-to-day traffic, and with 161 reported police sightings so far this year, it’s very likely you’ll encounter the police whilst driving on this 53-mile stretch.
The M20 motorway in Kent has been the third most policed road in the UK this year so far, with 108 police reports being logged into Waze.
This Year’s Most Policed UK Roads According to Waze Reports
|Rank||Road||Number of Times |
Police Reported on Waze (Mar-Jul 2021)
|Road Length (miles)||Police Reports Per Mile|
The UK Roads with the Most Traffic Jams
When looking purely at the number of traffic jams reported on Waze since lockdown restrictions started to lift, it’s the UK’s major motorways that top the list; the M25, M6 and M5 come out as the top three worst culprits.
However, when you take into account the length of a road, the road that sees the most traffic jams per mile is actually the A406, better known as London’s North Circular Road. This 26-mile stretch has had 145 jams (6 for every mile!) reported by Waze users so far this year.
The M25 still takes second place as the worst road for traffic jam reports even when you account for its length! Over 340 traffic jam incidents have been logged since the UK started to travel more this year.
The third worst road for traffic jams is the A3, also known as ‘Portsmouth Road’, which connects the naval city of Portsmouth with the city of London.
The UK Roads with Most Reported Traffic Jams via Waze
|Rank||Road||Number of Traffic |
Jams Reported on Waze (Mar-Jul 2021)
|Road Length (miles)||Jams Reported Per Mile|
The UK Roads with the Most Accidents
It makes sense that the road with the most traffic jams reported is also the road with the most traffic accidents. London’s North Circular road saw the most accidents reported (per mile) on Waze as lockdown lifted over 2021. The next roads which had the highest frequency of accidents were the M42 and M25 motorways.
The A23 (one of the most policed roads in the UK) also appears in the top five roads for accidents, as does the A2, another southerly road which connects London with Dover.
How Incidents on UK Roads Changed Over 2021 Lockdown
As well as looking at the number of accidents and hazards that occurred over the months that lockdown eased in 2021, we also looked at the weeks before and after key lockdown-lifting dates to see which restrictions had the biggest impact on our roads.
From March 8th restrictions were cautiously lifted, including the opening of Schools, care home visits and meeting with one friend outside. This coincided with a 160% rise in road accidents being reported on Waze.
The 12th of April 2021 was the day that non-essential shops, beer gardens, hairdressers, zoos, theme parks, libraries and museums reopened. Indoor leisure (swimming pools/gyms) opened for solo/single house hold visitors and people could meet for outdoor gatherings under the ‘Rule of Six’. The difference in traffic jams before and after this date is huge – with an increase of 529% reports on Waze.
From 17th May there was a correlation between accidents and traffic jams increasing (41% and 69% respectively) and new freedoms restarting such as indoor mixing for up to six people, domestic UK breaks and indoor table service at pubs and restaurants.
July 19th marked the (postponed) Freedom Day, the date when social distancing and mask wearing was reduced, with a (nearly) normal service resuming across the country. This final lockdown lift didn’t seem to massively cause a change in the nation’s driving behavior, with accidents and traffic jams remaining at relatively similar levels before and after.
July 19th marked the (postponed) Freedom Day, the date when social distancing and mask wearing was reduced, with a (nearly) normal service resuming across the country. This final lockdown lift didn’t seem to massively cause a change in the nation’s driving behaviour, with accidents and traffic jams remaining at relatively similar levels before and after.
Our Waze Report Methodology:
We wanted to find the roads in the UK that had the most accidents, hazards and traffic jams this year, correlating to increased road use as 2021 l
Our Waze Report
Methodology: We wanted to find the roads in the UK that had the most accidents, hazards and traffic jams this year, correlating to increased road use as 2021 lockdown restrictions lifted. In order to do this, we analysed Waze data from 1st March to 31st July 2021. We mapped each incident reported to Waze against its nearest road and counted the number of incidents on each road. For all incident types, except Road Closures, we cross-referenced the number of reports with the length of the roads to normalise report probability. We also wanted to understand how key dates coming out of lockdown impacted the number of accidents, hazards and jams on the roads. To do this, we took the same data and compared the average number of each report type for the 14 days before the date against the 14 day average after the date. We then took the % change between the before and after to understand the degree that each report type relatively changed.