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Coronavirus: motorway services remain crucial

It’s clear that slowing the spread of coronavirus means we are all having to do things very differently. Leaving our homes only for the very limited purposes outlined by the Prime Minister on Monday has resulted in a huge overall drop in travel demand. Transport, by any means, is for the time being for essential purposes only.

One of those essential purposes is getting key workers, including NHS and social care staff, to and from work. Another is getting medical supplies to hospitals and food to the shops. England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads are key to this and it’s good to see Highways England setting out how it will play its part in keeping the country going. Without its roads open there would be very little on the supermarket shelves!

Motorway services remain an integral part of Highways England’s roads, not least for lorry drivers. As well as the rest required to ensure safe driving, there’s the practical issue of refuelling – vehicles and drivers – on longer journeys. Partly to comply with Government advice, and partly because there are many fewer customers, there is now a much-reduced range of outlets open at most motorway services. Fuel, toilets and food to take back to your car are still available.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, lorry drivers delivering food, NHS volunteers taking medical supplies around the country and others making essential journeys will still need to rest, refuel, go to the toilet and have something to eat and drink. Our Motorway Services User Survey shows that motorway services are doing a great job in the eyes of their customers. It’s so important that they can keep doing so in the coming months, despite the inevitable sudden, dramatic fall in sales. With the limit on lorry drivers’ hours raised temporarily to 11 hours each day, facilities for them to rest are even more important than usual.

Finally, it was good to see that the Government has taken steps to help car owners avoid unnecessary travel and remain legal by extending, for six months, MOT certificates expiring on or after 30 March 2020. Cars must still be roadworthy and it’s important to note that garages are allowed to keep operating.

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