Guide to Database Pages

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You should be able to find your way around the Motorway Database without difficulty, and if you're familiar with the usual symbols and colour coding of UK maps, you'll have no trouble with the exit lists.

If there's anything that doesn't make sense, this page should explain it all.

What's the Motorway Database?

It's a comprehensive source of information about high speed roads in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Despite its name, it actually covers many A-roads that are similar to motorways too.

The information comes in two parts: information about whole routes, and information about individual locations. When you view the schematic maps ("exit lists") of a route, you can then click on individual junctions, bridges and service areas (or the blue "information" symbol next to them) to see the full detail on that location.

For a long time the "Motorway Database" was just a name, but now it really is a database-driven system, so you can search for locations according to a wide range of criteria.

How do I use motorway pages?

Short motorways have everything on one page; long motorways are split across several sections which are reached using the blue buttons at the top and bottom of each page. They are all arranged into the following parts.

Map of M4 route

Each motorway's page begins with a small map of the UK showing all the roads in the Database, showing motorways in blue and all-purpose roads in green. The one you have selected is highlighted in red. Next to it is a written introduction to the road.

The factfile comes next:

Start and Finish
The start point of the motorway and, in brackets, the road it starts on. Longer motorways have a major town or city; shorter routes have something more specific.
A list of all the primary destinations you can avoid on the way.
An approximate length of the motorway in miles. Precise figures are difficult to come by, so the figure that appears here is averaged from various other sources.
Terminates, Spurs, Meets
Lists of any other routes that appear in the Motorway Database that interact with this one. Each route number is clickable.

How do I read exit lists?

The main part of the page is the exit list, a graphical representation of the motorway showing junction layouts, intersecting roads, exit signage, number of traffic lanes, speed limits and distances.

Why do you show roads crossing each other at the wrong level?

On all junctions, the motorway is shown underneath and the other roads on top in order to make the junction's layout more clear. The diagrams pay no attention to whether a road goes over or under because this makes no difference to the way a junction operates.

You can point at any junction to see its name and what type it is, and click it to view its individual junction page.

Map diagrams

Symbol Meaning
Mainline Motorway
The main line of the motorway being listed.
Mainline Primary A-road
The main line of the A-road being listed.
Three-Level Stacked Roundabout Junction with motorway
There are many different types — this one happens to be a Three Level Stacked Roundabout.
Roundabout InterchangeRoundabout Interchange Junction with primary A-road
Dual-carriageway (left), single-carriageway (right).
Roundabout InterchangeRoundabout Interchange Junction with non-primary A-road
Dual-carriageway (left), single-carriageway (right).
Roundabout InterchangeRoundabout Interchange Junction with B-road
Dual-carriageway (left), single-carriageway (right).
Roundabout InterchangeRoundabout Interchange Junction with unclassified road
Dual-carriageway (left), single-carriageway (right).
Roundabout InterchangeRoundabout Interchange Junction with various roads
Often more than one type of road meets a junction.
ImageImage Services
Sometimes a service area can appear within a junction.
ImageImage Rest area
Rest areas are less common. Lay-bys are not shown.
Image Tunnel
Image Bridge
Not all river crossings are shown.

Destination signs

Grey panels to the left and right of each junction show the places and road numbers shown on direction signs. Often these are different depending on the direction of travel: signs on the left are for travel towards the top of the map and signs on the right are for travel down.

Sheffield (A630)
M1 Link
  The text is shown in a similar form to what you'd see on a real road sign, and just like in the real world, brackets are used to indicate a road that is not at the junction but which can be reached by following another route from it. Where you see a blue arrow, you can click it to visit the Motorway Database page for the corresponding route.

Arrow symbols at the bottom of each sign panel show the number of running lanes at any given point and the road layout at exits. Entry points are only shown where new lanes are gained from the entry sliproad, and normal merge points are not shown by the arrow symbols.

If you open up a junction page, you can see a written explanation of what each lane does at that location.

Other signs are shown where information is available too.

Symbol Meaning
ImageImageImageImage Normal exit
Two running lanes continue through the junction, with a normal exit from the left lane.
ImageImageImageImageImage Lane terminates
Three running lanes approach the junction, and the left lane leaves the main carriageway to form the sliproad. Two lanes continue through.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage Lane drop
Four running lanes approach the junction. The left lane leaves the main carriageway to form the exit sliproad, but is only missing for the length of the junction and is re-gained from the entry sliproad. There are three running lanes through the junction but four afterwards.
ImageImageImageImageImage Lane gain
Two running lanes approach the junction. There is no exit. A new lane joins from the left to form three running lanes.
ImageImageImageImageImage Normal exit and lane gain
Two running lanes approach the junction and there is a normal exit from the left lane. After the exit, a new lane joins from the left to form three running lanes.
ImageImageImageImage New lane
A two-lane carriageway widens to form three running lanes. The new lane appears from the former left lane.
ImageImageImageImageImage Lane stops
There are three running lanes on the carriageway. At an arbitrary point the right-hand lane terminates and the carriageway continues with two lanes.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage Hard shoulder running
Hollow arrows indicate lanes that may be temporarily opened to traffic using overhead electronic signals, usually by allowing use of the hard shoulder.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage Exit with hard shoulder running
Sometimes duplicate exit symbols are used to indicate an exit where the hard shoulder may or may not be open to traffic. In this example, the exit is from the hard shoulder if it is open, and if it is closed, the exit is from the next lane.
ImageImageImageImageImage Tidal flow lanes
Lanes shown by a double-headed arrow may change direction of flow. Overhead electronic signals will indicate whether the lane is open.
ImageImage Motorway restrictions
Motorway restrictions start or end at this junction.
ImageImageImageImage Speed limit
The road is subject to a change in speed limit at approximately the point shown. The speed limit continues until shown otherwise.
Image Toll plaza
There is a toll collection facility across the main carriageway of the road at this point. It will also be marked on the exit list with a black bar across the carriageway.
Image Traffic signals
The main carriageway of the road is controlled by traffic signals at this junction.
Image Variable Speed Limits (VSL)
The speed limit on the road is controlled by electronic signs. The changeable speed limit is legally enforceable and backed by speed cameras covering each lane.

How do I use junction pages?

Eventually every location on the motorway network that appears in an exit list in the Motorway Database will have its own page — every junction, every service area, every tunnel, every change of speed limit, the works. You can find them by clicking the blue 'i' symbol by the side of an exit list, or by using the search function.

Each page sets out information about that location, and if co-ordinates have been added, will include an aerial photo.