Highways England gives a nod to nudge with new safety campaign


Nine major road improvement sites have been given new look signs and road markings as Highways England trials different ways of making its roadworks clearer and safer.

In what may be a nod to so-called 'nudge' tactics - playing on behavioural insights in cost effective small scale interventions - the changes include orange signs pointing out that ‘Nobody likes a tailgater’ and ‘You may not always see us’.

Images of children in hard hats are shown with the message ‘Our Dad works here’ on one sign as the HE tries to improve driver awareness, behaviour and safety through roadworks.

Orange count-in markings are being trialled at one site to reduce sudden braking on approaches to roadworks. All of the sites have portable variable message signs displaying information on how long it will take to get through the roadworks.

Highways England major projects director, Peter Adams, said: 'We have a role to play to make things clearer and simpler for road users. This new approach is about giving them the information they want, such as how long it will take to get through the work, why there are any delays and why the workforce might not be visible. Breaking down in roadworks can also be scary, so to help those who are unfortunate enough to get stuck, we’re trialling dedicated emergency access points for them while they wait for our free recovery.'

The new approach to roadworks was launched in June, just two months after the HE came into being, although as Transport Network understands, the project was started over a year ago by the Highways Agency. The nine sites include five on the M1, two on the M3, plus two on the A40 and A21.

Transport Focus, the new watchdog for users of Highways England roads, has published results of research on drivers’ top priorities for improvement.

A spokesman for Transport Focus said: 'This study was done to find out what areas we should be focusing on for further research. We found the condition of roads to be by far the most important concern for drivers, dwarfing other factors. Management of roadworks was one of the next most important priorities, however.'

According to the HE, the new roadworks signs and markings will be trialled for three months initially. Those that prove beneficial will stay out for the remainder of the duration of the nine road improvements.

'We will be looking at how people respond to the new approach, and getting their feedback,' Adams said.

'We will also find out what our road workers think: did they feel safer and more visible and what was their experience. Importantly, we’ll be keeping a close eye on incidents in the roadworks and whether our customers feel more satisfied with how we are managing roadworks.'

Surveyor's Highway Management conference will take place on September 23rd and 24th in Manchester. To register go to: www.highway.surveyorevents.com

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