The M5 motorway links the Midlands to the South West region of the UK. Running for just over 160 miles in length, it starts at Junction 8 of the M6, at West Bromwich, and ends in Exeter, in Devon.
Because of its location, the M5 is the major gateway to some of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. At weekends, public holidays and school holidays, M5 traffic tends to be extremely heavy as motorists from the Midlands - and further north, connecting from the M6 - head for Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. The M5 also provides access to several large UK cities, from various directions, including Birmingham, Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Bristol.
The M5 also connects to other major motorways, as well as the M6. From Junction 4a, motorists can reach the M42; from Junction 8 the M50; from Junction 15 the M4, and from Junction 18a the M49 motorway.
Notable landmarks visible from the M5 include Brent Knoll, an imposing 139-metre tall hill and Iron Age fort, near Burnham-on-Sea and the Willow Man sculpture which towers near Junction 23 of the motorway.
Worst Junctions on the M5
Some junctions on the motorway tend to get busier than others so be aware of potential delays by monitoring M5 travel news and M5 traffic updates - and try to avoid the worst of them. The following junctions are regularly busy:
The Almondsbury Interchange is a four level stack interchange where the M5 meets the M4, M48 and M32. In peak times, M5 traffic gets congested in and around this junction.
Junction 18 to 19
The Avonmouth Bridge often becomes a traffic bottleneck. In an effort to reduce congestion, the bridge was widened to four lanes each way in 2004.
In instances of heavy traffic, queues for the exit at this junction can back up onto the motorway, causing lengthy tailbacks.
Accident Hotspots on the M5
The M5 has unfortunately been the scene of several major accidents in recent years. So, firstly, if you’re planning to drive on the motorway stay vigilant and stay safe. Secondly, make sure you receive M5 traffic updates to learn of any developing accidents and make arrangements to avoid getting caught up in the aftermath.
The stretch of motorway between Junction 19 and 20, and Junction 13 and 14, has seen several accidents in recent years. Junction 25 was the scene for one of the worst accidents on a UK motorway in 2011, a multiple collision involving over 50 vehicles and with a number of fatalities.
Upcoming M5 Major Roadworks
The flow of M5 traffic is likely to be impacted by some of the major roadwork schemes planned in future years. The best advice is to stay on top of M5 travel news to be aware of likely delays and tailbacks.
Existing and forthcoming M5 major roadworks include:
M5 Junctions 4a to 6 - this project got underway in January 2016. The improvements are to turn the road between Junctions 4a and 6 to an ‘all lane running’ smart motorway. There is an extra lane in both directions - but expect lane closures and delays while the work is being done.
M5 Junctions 1 to 2 - this is a major maintenance scheme, scheduled for completion at the end of 2018. It involves concrete repair and waterproofing on the Oldbury Viaduct, just outside West Bromwich. Motorists should seek other routes while work is continuing, with 30mph speed restrictions in place and changes to road layouts at junction 8 of the M6 and junction 4a of the M5.
M5 Junction 23 - looking further ahead, there is proposed work planned at the Bridgwater junction to widen the slip roads. This isn’t scheduled until 2020 at the earliest, but consult M5 traffic updates to understand the disruption when work does start.