M1 motorway diversion routes to avoid traffic jams


With the M1 motorway carrying up to 140,000 trucks and cars on a daily basis, the UK’s north to south roadway is never far from a major delay or closure.

But for those in the know, there are a large number of emergency diversions and alternative routes to help drivers skip the jams and head back to clear carriageways. Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden reveals how to find the routes right now.
m1 diversion signFind alternative routes from M1 motorway junctions to dodge jams  (Credit: Alex McGregor)Here we list the official emergency diversions from the motorway junction that can help guide drivers to safety using symbols on permanent road signs. Read on to find our list of alternative M1 routes and how to find the emergency diversion symbol you need to follow.

What are the emergency diversion symbols on the M1 and how can I use them for alternative routes?

All motorways, such as the M1, have carefully researched diversions ready for major closures and incidents, but you can use them when you simply need to avoid localised congestion on the M1. 

Just use our list, below, to find the junction closest to before the congestion starts, then leave the motorway and follow the emergency diversion symbol listed. You can then return to the motorway at the next clear junction. 

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List of M1 motorway emergency diversion routes for all junctions

If a traffic jam is looming on the M1, simply search the list below and find the junction prior to the congestion. This will also tell you how long the diversion is and what emergency diversion symbol is that you’ll need to follow.

These are open diamonds (abbreviated as OD), circles, squares or triangles. The same shapes might also be filled – for example, FT means filled triangle and so on. 

You can now leave the motorway at the allotted junction and look for the symbols on road signs – pointing the direction of travel. Just keep following the symbol and you’ll end up back at the motorway.

Emergency diverson symbols

Key and how to use diversion: Find the junction you are close to by searching the list below, select the appropriate diversion and follow the emergency diversion symbol as listed below (see key

  • Diversion: Length is stated in miles
  • Symbols: OT = Open Triangle – OC =Open Circle – OD = Open Diamond – OS = Outline Square
  • Symbols: FT = Filled Triangle – FC = Filled Circle – FD = Filled Diamond – FS = Filled Square
  • Direction: NB = Northbound – SB = Southbound
Route Direction Miles Symbol Description of M1 diversion
M1 NB 10.2 OT M1 NB Junction 31 to Junction 33
M1 NB 6.0 FC M1 NB Junction 33 to 34(S)
M1 NB 7.6 OT M1 NB Junction 33 to 35
M1 NB 6.7 OT M1 NB J34(N) to 35
M1 NB 1.7 FC M1 NB Junction 34(S) to 34(N)
M1 NB 4.8 OS M1 NB J35 to 35A (Closure & Diversion is J35toJ36)
M1 NB 2.9 OS M1 NB Junction 35A to 36
M1 NB 12.6 FS M1 NB Junction 36 to J37
M1 NB 20.2 OS M1 NB J37 to J38
M1 NB 5.3 OS M1 NB J38 to J39
M1 NB 8.3 FS M1 NB J39 to J40 (HGV Route)
M1 NB 5.4 OC M1 NB J39 to J40
M1 NB 8.0 OT M1 NB J40 to J41
M1 NB 5.5 OT M1 NB J41 to J42
M1 NB 6.1 OC M1 NB J42 to J43
M1 NB 6.2 OC M1 NB J42 to J43 pt2
M1 NB 2.9 FC M1 NB J43 to J44
M1 NB 21.7 OD M1 NB J44 to J46
M1 NB 6.0 FS M1 NB J46 to J47
M1 NB 12.7 FT M1 NB J46 to J48 (A1(M) J43)
M1 NB 11.2 FT M1 NB J47 to J48 (A1(M) J43)
M1 SB 10.2 FT M1 SB J33 to J31
M1 SB 1.6 FS M1 SB J34(N) to J34(S)
M1 SB 5.1 FT M1 SB J34(S) to J33
M1 SB 6.3 FS M1 SB J35 to J34(N)
M1 SB 4.7 OS M1 SB J35A to J35
M1 SB 3.1 OT M1 SB J36 to J35A
M1 SB 19.3 FS M1 SB J38 to J37
M1 SB 5.1 OT M1 SB J39 to J38
M1 SB 5.0 FT M1 SB J40 to J39
M1 SB 7.8 FD M1 SB J40 to J39 (HGV Route)
M1 SB 7.6 OS M1 SB J41 to J40
M1 SB 5.4 OT M1 SB J42 to J41
M1 SB 7.2 FD M1 SB J43 to J42
M1 SB 5.9 FD M1 SB J43 to J42 p2
M1 SB 3.4 FT M1 SB J44 to J43
M1 SB 22.5 OC M1 SB J46 to J44
M1 SB 5.6 OD M1 SB J47 to J46
M1 SB 12.3 OD M1 SB J48(A1(M)J43) to J46
M1 SB 10.4 FS M1 SB J48(A1(M)J43) to J47
M1 NB 7.3 FD M1 J1-J4
M1 SB 7.5 FC M1 J4-J1
M1 NB 5.5 FD M1 J5-J6
M1 SB 5.8 FC M1 J6-J5
M1 NB 6.8 FD M1 J6-J8
M1 SB 6.7 FC M1 J8-J6
M1 NB 17.9 OD M1 J14-M1 J15 NB Closure
M1 NB 5.0 OS M1 J15-M1 J15a NB Closure
M1 NB 5.4 OD M1 J15a--M1 Junction 16 NB Closure
M1 NB 23.7 OT M1 J15a--M1 J18 NB Closure
M1 NB 13.7 OT M1 J16 M1 J18 NB Closure
M1 NB 11.0 OD M1 J18 to M1 J19 NB Closure (M1 Traffic)
M1 NB 7.2 OC M1 J18 to M1 J19 NB Closure (M6 Traffic)
M1 NB 7.4 OC M1 J19 to J20 NB Closure
M1 NB 18.8 OS M1 J20 J21 NB Closure
M1 NB 10.2 OT Junction 21 Junction 21a NB Closure
M1 NB 6.7 OT Junction 21a - Junction 22 NB Closure
M1 NB 5.8 FS Junction 22 - Junction 23 NB Closure
M1 NB 16.2 FD Junction 23 - Junction 23a NB Closure
M1 NB 2.1 FS Junction 23a - Junction 24 NB Closure
M1 NB 3.5 OT Junction 24 - Junction 24a NB Closure
M1 NB 14.5 OT Junction 24a to Junction 25 NB Closure
M1 NB 7.8 NA Junction 25 to Junction 26 NB Closure
M1 NB 16.1 OT Junction 26 to Junction 28 NB Closure
M1 NB 10.0 OT Junction 27 to Junction 28 NB Closure
M1 NB 12.6 OT Junction 28 to Junction 29 NB Closure
M1 NB 14.0 OT Junction 29 to Junction 30 NB Closure
M1 SB 18.1 OC M1 Junction 15 to M1 Junction 14 SB Closure
M1 SB 6.0 OT M1 Junction 15a to M1 Junction 15 SB Closure
M1 SB 6.3 OS M1 Junction 16 to M1 Junction 15a SB Closure
M1 SB 24.5 OS M1 Junction 18 to Junction 15a SB Closure
M1 SB 11.7 FS M1 Junction 19 to Junction 18 SB Closure
M1 SB 11.7 FS M1 Junction 20 to Junction 19 SB Closure
M1 SB 19.3 OS M1 Junction 21 to Junction 20 SB Closure
M1 SB 11.2 OS M1 J21a to J21 SB Closure (From Junction 22)
M1 SB 7.8 OS M1 Junction 21a to Junction 21 SB Closure
M1 SB 6.7 FC M1 Junction 22 J21a SB Closure
M1 SB 6.3 OC M1 J23 to J22 SB Closure
M1 SB 17.0 OD Junction 23a to Junction 23 SB Closure
M1 SB 2.6 FT Junction 24 to Junction 23a SB Closure
M1 SB 2.1 OS Junction 24a to Junction 24 SB Closure
M1 SB 15.2 OS Junction 25 to Junction 24a SB Closure
M1 SB 9.7 NA Junction 26 to Junction 25 SB Closure
M1 SB 8.3 OS J27 to J26 SB Closure (Trapped Traffic)
M1 SB 16.1 OS J28 to J26 SB Closure
M1 SB 12.5 OS J28 to J29 SB Closure
M1 SB 14.0 OS Junction 30 to Junction 29 SB Closure
M1 NB 10.2 FT M1 Junction10 to Junction10a
M1 SB 11.3 OC M1 Junction10a to Junction 10
M1 SB 8.9 FS M1 Junction10a to Junction 9
M1 SB 6.5 OS M1 Junction 10a to Junction 11
M1 NB 9.2 FD M1 J9 to J10
M1 SB 8.7 FT M1 J9 to J8
M1 NB 8.7 OD M1 J8 to J9
M1 NB 6.6 OD M1 J6 to J7
M1 SB 6.7 OC M1 J6 to J7
M1 NB 18.5 OC M1 J14 to J15
M1 NB 22.7 OD M1 J14 to J15A
M1 SB 6.9 OC M1 J14 to J13

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Can’t I just use my sat-nav for this?

Sat-nav devices will not benefit from the expert local knowledge possessed by inspectors who plot the emergency routes. 

Local planners build them around the likes of congestion pinch-points, low-bridges and dangerous road – that sat-nav devices could lead you to by accident.

m1 diversion sign showing routeSigns will show the emergency symbol to follow in the event of a closure or delay  (Credit: Wikipedia)

How do the emergency diversion signs work?

If part of a motorway or other major road is closed by a major incident, these symbols placed permanently on road signs can plot a route to the next junction to bypass the blockage. 

There are various types of symbols, so that separate routes can run for cars and trucks - avoiding low bridges and the like. Sometimes, there will be just one route where no restrictions apply.

Where can I see the emergency diversion symbols?

Just look for the emergency diversion symbols on regular road signs after you leave the motorway. They will be on all major signage along the route. 

Please note: Follow these signs at your own risk.. It is not possible to guarantee they will always be faster than remaining on the motorway.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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