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Transport User Voice – May 2020 – Road users’ needs during lockdown

Our work with Highways England

What is Highways England doing for road users and what are its priorities?

With traffic much lighter than usual those who are still using our motorways and major ‘A’ roads are making essential trips only – otherwise they shouldn’t be there. Those who do have to use the roads are the key workers we are all relying on in such testing times.

Important then, that we continue to monitor the situation at motorway service areas. The information Highways England has published – at our suggestion – shows that all motorway services are open providing toilets, fuel, showers, food and drink 24 hours a day even if the food and retail offer is much scaled-back.

We’re hearing ongoing concern from, in particular, lorry drivers that the hot food offer has effectively been withdrawn. Understandably, if you are on the road all day you don’t want a cold sandwich for breakfast, lunch and tea!

Our Motorway Services User Survey shows that in normal times motorway services do a great job in the eyes of their customers. It’s important that they’re able to keep doing so in the coming months, despite the financial pressures of the sudden, dramatic fall in sales.

Our discussions with Highways England regional managers give us comfort that they are focused on keeping roads open for key workers and other essential journeys. We continue to highlight the importance of meeting the needs of freight companies, with access to warehouses, distribution centres and manufacturing bases crucial.

Clear, accurate information remains a priority where roadworks will shut a road completely. But it’s also important that Highways England grasps the opportunity to get extra maintenance done wherever possible, taking the advantage of the current chance to close lanes without much impact on traffic. Could litter picking be stepped up? It can presumably be done keeping two metres from colleagues?

Throughout the lockdown Transport Focus will continue to engage with Highways England on a range of subjects, including roadworks information accuracy and incident management. Although it reflects the road user experience before lockdown, we’re also discussing the recently-published results from our latest Strategic Roads User Survey.

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