A new survey has revealed the lengths British motorists will go to avoid driving on the motorway.

UK drivers travelled an additional 600 million miles last year to bypass the main thoroughfares according to new data from the AA.

Under the study, the AA’s route planner was used by motorway-shy drivers to come up with nearly five million routes that specifically kept off the main roads. These routes averaged out to add an additional 125 miles on the journey, and, if laid end to end would circumnavigate the globe 24,000 times over.

Female drivers and young people were the most hesitant about motorway travel, with only 44 per cent of both women and those aged 18 – 24 years claiming that they felt comfortable driving on Britain’s motorways.

The AA, which suggested that a good percentage of UK drivers would benefit from a refresher course, found that students at their driving schools were most at risk on the motorways from driving too slow, not observing safe following distances and failing to merge safely when they did join the motorway.

The head of motorway driver development at the AA Driving School, Mark Peacock, said that despite motorways statistically being proved safer than travel on other routes, there was an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that motorways held an almost mythical fear for some and were frequently avoided at great lengths. Mr Peacock also added that drivers who go out of their way to avoid driving on the motorway were not only presenting themselves with a slower, longer journey – that ultimately cost more – but were in fact increasing the chances of being involved in an accident by choosing alternate roads.