The A38 is the second longest road in the UK, only shorter than the A1, stretching from Bodmin in Cornwall to Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. No wonder, then, that it has three entirely separate stretches of road suitable for the Motorway Database. This is the northernmost; further south - but much too far apart to link together - are the A38(M) Aston Expressway and the A38 Devon Expressway.
This length, connecting the northern fringes of the West Midlands conurbation to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, used to be the main road between the north-east and south-west of the country, taking all the holiday traffic from Northumberland and Yorkshire towards Devon and Cornwall. It was relieved in the 1980s by the combination of A42 and M42 a little way to the south-east, but remains very busy, forming the backbone of Derby's road network and providing a crucial link north from Birmingham to Lichfield, Burton and beyond.
Most of the road was built piecemeal as a series of bypasses and on-line upgrades, and for that reason it feels very untidy and a little bit neglected all the way from Lichfield to the M1.
At the southern end of the route, the A38 itself peels off the Lichfield bypass to run east of Sutton Coldfield and approach Birmingham by stealth. The last mile of road connecting to the M6 Toll is therefore numbered A5148.