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Road User Voice – July 2015 – Quality of road surfaces top of driver and biker priorities for improvement

17 July 2015

The results are in – Transport Focus has published its first research into road users’ priorities for improvement on the motorways and main ‘A’ roads in England.

road user priorities July 2015 Coming out as the top priority for improvement is ‘quality of road surfaces’ – and by a considerable margin. Safer design and maintenance of roads, better behaved drivers and the better management of roadworks are also in the top four priorities.

We asked nearly 5000 car and van drivers and motorcyclists to rank their priorities for improvement. The results are broken down by type of vehicle, region, age, gender, disability and journey purpose and length.

When road users talked about ‘quality of road surfaces’ they were not just talking about potholes, although that is an issue even on the strategic road network (SRN). Drivers also wanted surfaces that produce less noise (concrete roads were mentioned as a particular problem), they wanted surfaces that were safe even in poor weather and they wanted surfaces giving a more comfortable ride.

For motorcyclists, deterioration of the surface between lanes was mentioned as a particular problem when overtaking.

Examples of why road users say ‘quality of road surfaces’ is their highest priority for improvement

A47 on 10 July A1 on 12 July

A47 at Sutton Friday 10 July

A1 at Stamford Sunday 12 July

We found that ‘reduced journey times’ is ranked by drivers as the sixth highest priority for improvement, although this moved up to second place for commuters and third place for business users.

Some may be surprised that ‘increased reliability of journey times’ is only the seventh highest priority for improvement. We cannot say for certain, but there are two possible explanations. First, it could be because relatively few people encounter problems with journey time reliability when they use the SRN (Highways England’s monitoring shows the vast majority of journeys are completed on time). Second, it could be that some road users factor in variation in journey time based on experience and so cease to regard it as a problem.

Generally, the order of priorities varies only slightly between sub-groups. However, better management of unplanned delays such as accidents or breakdowns is more important to women drivers from all age groups who ranked it third, than men drivers who ranked it fifth and sixth across different age groups. For drivers using the M25, reduced journey time was ranked the second highest priority for improvement.

You can download a PDF of the research report here.

Coming next: research into priorities for improvement among HGV drivers and freight industry fleet managers.

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