Drivers on the strategic road network (SRN) want road surfaces without dips, bumps and potholes, with clearer white lines and ‘cats eyes’, and repairs affecting safety carried out as quickly as possible, according to new research.
Watchdog Transport Focus and Highways England explored exactly what road users want after research by Transport Focus two years ago found that improved road surface quality on the SRN was users’ top priority for improvement.
The A30 near Bodmin
The new research found that road users want Highways England to tell them about known problems and a date by which repairs will be carried out.
Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘Drivers tell us they want to make safe journeys on roads that are continuously smooth, less noisy, with fewer potholes and clear, helpful road markings.
‘Highways England now needs to meet drivers’ expectations of major roads, not just deliver minimum standards. When planning to build, maintain or resurface roads, the first question should always be “what do users want?”’
According to the report, to a road user a good quality road surface:
- is continuously smooth, without dips, bumps, potholes, undulations and deep ruts
- has white lines and ‘cats eyes’ in excellent condition – road users think of these as part of the surface and not something separate to do with signage
- is preferably made of asphalt rather than concrete because it is considered quieter to drive on and viewed as less bumpy
Transport Focus is calling for:
- Highways England to make it easier for road users to report defects on its roads
- the Department for Transport (DfT) to establish a dedicated ‘renewals backlog’ fund
- Highways England to develop construction and maintenance standards that will deliver the quality of surface road users expect from major roads
- the metric used in Road Period 2 (2020-25) to measure surface quality from a user perspective
- the DfT to set a challenging but achievable target for improvement in surface quality
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: ‘We already knew that road surface is important and since April 2015 we have resurfaced 3,000 lane miles.
‘This report will help us to understand our users’ requirements more clearly and we will consider the findings and recommendations of this study to help inform our current work and the next period of investment in our network.’