Opinion Former

Road users request better communication

Motorists want better communication from Highways England in the event of roadworks and incidents on the strategic road network, a new report from watchdog Transport Focus has said.

The report found that highway users’ core information needs are not currently always being met when hold ups occur on motorways or major A roads. These needs include clear and accurate details on the cause and likely length of the delay and, if the road ahead is closed completely, information about diversion routes.

“Road users tell us that they will be patient, to a point, with roadworks and other delays. But they want Highways England to remember that there are people inside the affected vehicles,” said Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith. “This means better information on what is happening, why and for how long.”

The report – launched to coincide with last week’s Highways UK event – recommends more effective use of electronic signage to meet drivers’ real time information needs.

Under ’normal’ circumstances it also urged Highways England to provide more travel time messages across the network. This comes after motorists told Transport Focus that such information is helpful at giving a ‘feel’ for how good the journey will be.

Other recommendations include that Highways England should consider planning shorter sections of roadworks, with larger schemes carried out in phases where possible, and that 24/7 working with rolling shifts should become the norm for new projects.

The report also encourages more work to help release trapped traffic, preventing vehicles from joining the back of a long queue.

Transport Focus said it would now use its findings to work with Highways England, the Department for Transport and others to help shape the management of incidents and roadworks.

A Highways England spokesman said: “We work hard to minimise the inconvenience of both roadworks and incidents, carrying out the majority of work overnight, removing hundreds of miles of roadworks over busy holiday periods and clearing over 85% of motorway incidents within an hour.

“We are already working on ways to further reduce the impact of roadworks and incidents including working around the clock and trialling higher speed limits through roadworks.”

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