Road User Voice – July 2016 – Road user director’s editorial

05 July 2016

When travelling on England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads you may want to seek traffic information. This could be from a variety of sources such as electronic signs or via a local radio.

But where does all that information come from? The answer is Highways England’s National Traffic Operations Centre (NTOC) off the M5 west of Birmingham, and we’ve recently been to see it in action. We particularly wanted to understand how information about incidents are communicated to road users, both in terms of detail and accuracy.

We also had an update on progress with potential new messages for the electronic signs and plans for sorting out problems with paying to use the Dartford Crossing.

Work continues on developing our new Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS). We’ve started a series of focus groups to test methods to maximise responses and increase participation levels. Our first group was held in London and others will follow in other cities over the next few weeks.

We have also started fieldwork on our research to understand what road users want to see improved in the period 2020-2025. The research involves a mixture of face-to-face interviews and online questionnaires at various sites around the country.

In other news – we had a useful three days at the Mobility Roadshow in Silverstone. It was insightful to talk to disabled drivers first-hand about their experiences and I spoke at the Age UK Conference that was taking place as part of the Roadshow. We met Highways England to learn about its CLEAR initiative which aims to keep as many lanes open as possible during an incident. We also provided a user perspective about the proposed ‘Connected-Corridor’ concept on the M2/A2, and to the Motorists’ Forum which is specifically exploring ways in which roadworks can be better managed.

The Transport Select Committee has also published its first report into Operation Stack  – we submitted evidence to the inquiry. It remains vital that a permanent solution is developed, but what’s built must meet the needs of drivers. We’ve asked drivers what they need at the lorry park and will be publishing our findings this summer.

Finally, when a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) is caught up in an accident there’s often a delaying factor in reopening the carriageway – diesel spills from the lorry’s fuel tanks. This can result in the need to resurface the carriageway and our Chief Executive, Anthony Smith, has blogged on the topic here. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Guy Dangerfield
Road User Director


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