Road lengths

Road length statistics provide estimates of the length of all roads maintained at public expense in Great Britain, by road category and region.

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Notes and guidance

Within these statistics, roads are classified as either “major” or “minor”. Major roads include motorways and all class ‘A’ roads. These roads usually have high traffic flows and are often the main arteries to major destinations. Minor roads are ‘B’ and ‘C’ classified roads and unclassified roads.

Information on the lengths of major roads is maintained by the Department for Transport using information from the Government Offices, local authorities, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and Ordnance Survey.

Road length information for minor ‘B’, ‘C’ and unclassified roads is obtained from Ordnance Survey roads data (the Integrated Transport Network dataset), local authorities, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Road length statistics are also presented for trunk and principal roads, further details of which can be found in the technical documentation below.

In additional to road class, Road lengths statistics are classified by urban and rural roads. Urban roads are major and minor roads within an urban area with a population of 10,000 or more. The definition is based on the 2001 Communities and Local Government definition of Urban Settlements. Rural roads are major and minor roads outside urban areas.

National Statistics

These statistics are currently being assessed by the United Kingdom Statistics Authority (UKSA) to determine their compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. An assessment report was published in June 2012 (Report 221).

Pre-release access list

This list details the post holders that are given pre-release access to road lengths publications for up to 24 hours prior to release.

Technical information

There are step changes in the minor road length figures in 2004 and 2006 due to changes in the base data. In 2004, amendments were made to the data for private roads in Scotland which had been incorrectly recorded as public roads. From 2006 omnwards, minor road length estimates have been made using Ordnance Survey’s Integrated Transport Network (ITN) dataset, rather than the OSCAR (Ordnance Survey Centre Alignment of Roads) dataset. This change in methodology has led to an increase in minor road length estimates due to the greater accuracy of the ITN.

Further technical Information on road length statistics is available here:

Information on road length statistics for previous years which were published on the Department’s old website can be found at:

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