Road users want more reliable journey times

07 July 2017

Users of England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads are least happy with the reliability of their journey time and the management of roadworks, according to research published today by Transport Focus.

The transport user watchdog has today published the latest survey of 2000 road users – the National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey. The survey measures their satisfaction with England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads, the network managed by Highways England.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, said: “Overall satisfaction with motorways and major ‘A’ roads is relatively high at 89.1 per cent, although just below the 90 per cent target. Satisfaction with motorway journeys at 88 per cent pulls the overall score down.

“These results provide pointers to Highways England about where they should focus effort to improve road users’ satisfaction. Delivering satisfactory journey times and managing roadworks effectively on motorways are among the weaker areas within the survey.

“Users want journey times that are predictable. Delays, caused by roadworks, congestion and accidents can undermine that. Satisfaction with journey time on motorways has decreased in the last six years, no doubt increasing traffic levels and roadworks to deliver extra capacity have played a part”.

“When it comes to satisfaction with roadworks on motorways, the key message from users is that they perceive a lack of urgency to complete roadworks, seeing miles of cones without anyone working.  These findings echo our previous research Incidents and roadworks.”

Key results for all aspects of satisfaction:

  • Overall satisfaction by type of road: Motorways are 88.1 per cent and major ‘A’ roads at 90.3 per cent, giving an overall total of 89.1 per cent.
  • Overall satisfaction by region: Overall satisfaction by Highways England region was the highest in the East and South West (both at 91 per cent) and the lowest in the North West (83 per cent)
  • Journey time – 87 per cent: down from 88 per cent last year. This was due to the decrease in satisfaction on motorways as a result of roadworks, congestion and accidents.
  • Roadworks – 63 per cent: a drop from 65 per cent last year. This has fallen from a high of 72 per cent in 2013-14. This is lower for motorways at 61 per cent than for major ‘A’ roads at 68 per cent. The reasons identified are perceived lack of urgency in completing the roadworks and poor information.
  • Signage: 93 per cent: an increase from the previous year. The small level of dissatisfaction is due to inaccurate variable message signs and other signs being difficult to read or confusing.
  • Upkeep: 90 per cent.  Motorways fare slightly better than major ‘A’ roads (91 and 88 per cent). Dissatisfaction results from noisy and poor surfaces, including potholes, and debris.
  • Users ‘feeling safe’: 92 per cent. This has remained fairly steady over recent years, but lower than earlier highest scores of 94 per cent (2011-12 and 2012-14). Key factors contributing to ‘feeling safe’ are being confident driving and detracting from ‘feeling safe’ are poor lighting, poor surfaces and bad weather, and other users’ poor driving.

Some road user quotes from the research

Journey times
“It took 20 minutes longer than expected for no obvious reason other than the volume of traffic.” (commuting, motorway)
“If there’s an accident you can understand it but on the M25 there didn’t seem to be a reason and what we thought was a one hour trip turned into a two and a half hour nightmare.” (leisure journey, motorway)
“You can’t travel anywhere over 50 mph on our motorways.” (on business, motorway)

Roadworks management
“No signs to say there were roadworks, the cones were out but no-one was working.  We see this every night and no-one is ever working.” (on business, motorway)
“Nothing telling you when the roadworks will be completed and they have gone on for a year.” (leisure journey, motorway)
“They never give reasons why there are roadworks.” (leisure journey, motorway)


Notes to editors
The National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey (NRUSS) measures road user satisfaction with motorways and major ‘A’ roads in England.  This is a Key Performance Indicator for Highways England which has a target of 90 per cent satisfaction. The overall satisfaction score is derived from five performance areas which were measured in the survey: journey time; safety; information/signage; roadworks management; and upkeep of the road.

2000 road users of the roads managed by Highways England across each of their seven regions were interviewed between April 2016 and March 2017. They were asked about their most recent journey.

The survey has been running since 2011 and was taken over by Transport Focus in 2016. Transport Focus is currently developing and piloting a new satisfaction survey which will replace NRUSS as the official measure of satisfaction.

For further information please contact the Transport Focus press office on 0300 123 2170

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