Fuelling Your Interest with 11 Weird and Wonderful Road Facts
Posted on 7th November 2018
Fasten your seatbelt.
We’re about to embark you on a worldwide trip around our roads. With 11 pit stops along the way, you will find an extraordinary discovery at each one.
No.1: What is the real reason behind why we drive on the left side of the road?
Because it was easier to joust and fight in battle!
For right-handed people (sorry left-handers), it was more practical to ride horseback on the left and attack the enemy on the right. When roads started to be built, this layout remained the most natural.
In the 18th century, to combat severe congestion, it was introduced by law that people must drive on the left side of London Bridge only. Then in 1835, the Highway Act came into effect which meant left side driving was compulsory on all roads throughout the UK.
Well, there is one exception. Yes, that’s right. Quite literally.
If you set wheels on the Savoy Court into London’s Savoy Hotel, there is a rule that vehicles must drive on the right, which passed as an Act of Parliament in 1902.
No.2: Where did catseyes really come from?
Not your pet cat’s eyes. We’re talking about the reflective dots that you see on the roads that gleam when a car drives past.
But in actual fact, cat’s eyes are to thank for the invention (hence the name).
A Yorkshire man called Percy Shaw was driving one night when his car lights reflected in a cat’s eyes on his way home from the local pub. He witnessed first-hand the safety benefits of roadside reflectors for drivers. But it took a lot of convincing. In fact, it wasn’t until a national blackout during WW2, that his sales began to rocket worldwide. In 1965 he was finally recognised for his invention and was awarded an OBE for his great services to exports.
What’s more, the well-designed creation is also self-cleaning. The reflective glass is coated in rubber, so when a car drives past, it lowers over the glass and wipes it clean. Impressive!
No.3: Sleeping policemen are to blame for slow traffic
No, we’re not referring to policemen falling asleep and causing traffic.
Sleeping policeman is just another term for a speed bump or speed ramp. They all have the same purpose – to slow down traffic.
The speed reduction measure was first introduced in 1906 in US town, Chatham, where they used flagstones and cobbles to raise crosswalks by five inches. The community was that impressed by the notion that onlookers bought popcorn and sat down on pavements to watch unwary drivers uneasily pass over the unexpected obstacle.
By 1953, speed bumps were becoming increasingly popular, when Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Arthurt Holly Compton, designed a speed bump that is mostly the same design that is adopted worldwide. But the UK was far behind in implementing the traffic measure and did not jump on board until the 1980s.
No.4: What do a zebra, pelican and toucan all have in common?
No, we’re not taking you through the jungle.
We’re still on the road fact journey, where the common denominator is that all three animals have road crossings named after them.
A zebra crossing refers to an area of road painted in black and white stripes – hence zebra! In the UK, it is required by law that drivers must give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road.
A pelican crossing differs from a zebra crossing as the flow of traffic is controlled by traffic lights. Pedestrians are able to press a button that changes the lights to red after a timer.
A toucan crossing is wider and enables pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road at the same time. It got its name as “two-can” cross – witty right?!
No.5: Are the UK’s roads going to pot?
We all hate them. And they take over our roads in bad weather.
When streets become cracked, water seeps into them. When the temperature drops, the water freezes and then expands which damages the tarmac and causes the crack to increase.
Every time the weather changes, the process recurs and eventually, a pothole is formed.
They’re driving us to distraction. Recent data has revealed that if all of the UK’s potholes were to adjoin, they would form one single hole that would measure 295 square miles. That equates to twice the size of the Isle of Wight!
No.6: The amber traffic light was non-existent until the 1920s
As you can imagine, this was pretty dangerous for drivers!
With no signal to slow down, there was a large number of accidents happening on the road.
A Police Officer in Detroit added the addition of the amber signal in 1920 to warn drivers in advance to stop.
Although we are not really sure of the reasons behind the colour choice, science adds validation, as red light has a longer wavelength than green, meaning it can be seen from a further distance.
No.7: Traffic lights are secretly your best friend
It’s likely you’ve never noticed this one, because it can often feel like we’re forever stuck at a red light.
But traffic light systems are very intelligent.
Each time new data comes in from traffic management centres, for example when there is an unanticipated large amount of traffic, traffic lights make slight adjustments to the timings of their cycle. They instantly adapt to enable traffic to flow as efficiently as possible.
With recent data stating that the average Brit spends around 99 days of their lifetime spent in traffic, it’s comforting to know our traffic system lends a handing help!
No.8: The UK’s rudest road sign definitely raises some eyebrows
Here in the UK, we are blessed with many rude road names – but the most offensive of all is in Rye, named “Dumb Woman’s Lane”.
The local myth is that it got its name because a mute (dumb) woman once lived there. But of course, today it is extremely derogative. We’re surprised it’s still stuck!
No.9: How far does the UK’s first road stretch back to?
Our first ever road dates back to over 5,000 years ago, which spanned from Wiltshire to Berkshire in Ridgeway. It was not until 1902 when the first tarmac road was built in Nottingham.
Somewhat later, motorways then followed, when the M6 Preston Bypass opened in 1958, covering just 8 miles, with two lanes each way.
Within just a few years of being built, motorways covered the whole country, helping to lay the foundations of the road network that our cars and delivery companies now use.
In 2012, the total road length was estimated to be over 245,400 miles. That means, if you were to put all of our roads in a straight line up into space, you would go beyond the moon, which is a sheer 238,855 miles from Earth!
No.10: In Russia, if your car isn’t kept clean, you’ll be greeted with an on the spot fine
We suggest you leave Russia off the travel list if you hate washing your car. Because it is actually illegal to drive around in a car that is deemed to be unclean by traffic police.
If you are stopped for committing this dirty offence, you will be given an on the spot fine.
No.11: Crown Oil delivers White Diesel (DERV) with true nationwide coverage, 365 days a year!
Yes, you read right. It doesn’t matter where you are in the UK, or what time you pick up the phone to order your DERV – we are available 24/7. We provide same day and next day white diesel deliveries to ensure your fleet of drivers are always on the road. That means, your DERV could be with you in a matter of hours.