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Services on ‘A’ roads – scope to improve the offer ?

Long-distance dual carriageways often carry as much traffic as some motorways, yet roadside facilities on ‘A’ roads are not subject to the same mandatory requirements. Our latest research ‘A’ road services: what users of the A3 and A34 think reveals there are some clear areas for improvement across the road network managed by Highways England.

We know from all our research that service areas forms an integral part of the road user experience. In this road user research 96 per cent of drivers using services on these two important ‘A’ roads in Southern England were satisfied with their experience on the day they were interviewed, but we also found this was partly because their expectations of such facilities are low.

Despite the high satisfaction rates in this latest survey, it’s clear there is ample scope to improve the experience of ‘A’ road users when they visit services.

Lorry drivers – who it’s worth remembering move over 90% of the nation’s freight – are particularly poorly served, a finding that reinforces the conclusions of other separate research among managers in the freight and coach industries that we published recently. Both these surveys underscore the need for Highways England to move further and faster to ensure this major group of road users can find parking spaces with facilities that meet their needs. The layout of the roads approaching services on ‘A’ roads is another real concern for this important group of road users, along with refreshments on offer and the facilities provided for them.

‘A’ road users also tell us they want more warning that services are coming up – on signs similar to those on motorways that show distances to the next few service areas and feature brand logos that show what is available at each site.

We want Highways England to review signage for services on ‘A’ roads – to make sure more are in the right place and show information to help drivers make informed choices in good time to leave the road safely. We also want to see a maximum distance between services on ‘A’ roads (just like there already is for motorway service areas).

In research published two years ago Transport Focus called on Highways England to take action to improve roadside facilities so they better meet the needs of road users.

So we’ve said before that Highways England needs a strategy setting out how it plans to improve services; they really need to get on with it!

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