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Road user watchdog calls for improvements to ‘A’ road services

In the latest research from road user watchdog Transport Focus 96 per cent of drivers using services on two important ‘A’ roads in Southern England were satisfied with their experience on the day, partly because their expectations of such facilities are low.

In a survey on the A3 and A34, road users visiting service areas had their say on signage, fuel, parking and food and drink. Results reveal drivers and passengers want more inviting facilities that offer clean, well-maintained toilets and a wider range of food and drink that is better value for money. They would also like more warning that services are coming up – on signs similar to those on motorways that show distances to the next few services and use brand logos to show what is available at each one.

Launching A’ road services: what users of the A3 and A34 think Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“We know from all our research that the quality of service areas forms an integral part of the road user experience. We’ve said before that Highways England needs to publish a strategy setting out how it plans to improve services; they really need to get on with it.”

“Despite 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.

“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.

“Lorry drivers are particularly poorly served. Highways England needs to move further and faster to ensure this major group of road users can find parking spaces with facilities that meet their needs.”

Ends

Notes for editors

‘A’ road services: what users of the A3 and A34 think is published today by Transport Focus.

This research concentrates on services in one Highways England area covering parts of Surrey, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, looking at provision on the A3 and a section of the A34. This represents a pilot phase of research Transport Focus hopes to roll out across other Highways England operational areas in the future.

The research found:

  • Drivers have low expectations of what is likely to be available at roadside services, which are often exceeded.
  • Overall satisfaction with services on the A3 and A34 is 96 per cent.
  • Some individual aspects are rated lower: cleanliness of the toilets was rated as good by 81 per cent, value for money of fuel was rated as good by 62 per cent.
  • While 97 per cent of visitors rated the quality of the food or drinks as good, 73 per cent thought it was value for money.
  • Users reported feeling less tired after a visit to these services, indicating a positive impact on road safety.
  • Lorry drivers flag the unsuitability of approach roads into some services on the A3 and A34; criticise the limited number and inadequate size of the parking spaces; and report insufficient facilities for relaxing and socialising.

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.

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.

Separate research among coach and logistics company managers published by Transport Focus on 1 November 2018 also highlighted that lorry operators are especially unhappy with facilities available to them on major ‘A’ roads (and motorways).

For further information please contact:
Kieran Watkins, telephone: 0300 123 0836 or email: kieran.watkins@transportfocus.org.uk

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