Road User Voice – January 2016 – Getting to grips with road surfacing

24 December 2015

Improved quality of road surfaces, by a big margin, is the number one priority for improvement among road users of the Strategic Road Network (SRN).

This was revealed by our recent Road users’ priorities for improvement: car and van drivers and motorcyclists research.

We know that concerns about road surface are not confined to potholes. It is also about general ‘smoothness’, deterioration between the lanes and surfaces that produce too much noise.

With this in mind, earlier this month some of our road user team went to the TRL (previously the Transport Research Laboratory) in Berkshire to understand what it does, on Highways England’s behalf, to measure the SRN’s road surface quality.

We saw different vehicles equipped with technology to measure such things as road surface condition, skid resistance and structural condition. We also found out that road surface condition surveys are carried out over approximately 30,000 lane kilometres per year. Lanes one and two are surveyed annually, lanes three, four and above are carried out every two years and slip roads every two years. These surveys then allow Highways England to identify potential maintenance schemes, set priorities and allocate budgets.

Skid resistance surveys are carried out over approximately 15,000 kilometres per year – on lane one, on slip roads and roundabouts. These are the areas which have the most ‘polishing’ that can cause grip issues for drivers and riders.

It was good to see the technology that is used to measure such an important issue for road users. We’ll be using this knowledge to inform discussions about Road Period Two (2020-2025).

Also, given that surface quality is road users’ highest priority for improvement, in 2016 we’ll be carrying out research to establish which aspects of surface quality road users most want to see improved. A lot of money will be spent on resurfacing in the next few years and we want to make sure it’s spent on the things road users most care about.


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