Transport User Voice – April 2020 – Essential roads for essential workers

27 March 2020

Keeping the country going

Monday’s stringent measures to slow the spread of coronavirus means big changes for all of us to get used to. While personal travel is severely restricted for the time being, transport itself continues to play a critical role in keeping the country going.

The motorways and major ‘A’ roads remain open for those who must still travel, although clearly with much less traffic than usual. Keeping them open in the coming weeks is vital to making sure medical supplies, medicines and food get to where they are needed. There would be very little on the supermarket shelves at all otherwise! We’ve been in touch with Highways England to understand what it is doing to keep the roads open. It told us about plans to ensure control centres, support functions, traffic officer patrols and safety-critical maintenance keeps going.

Interesting news this week that the Government has extended, by six months, MOT certificates that expire from 30 March onwards. This will avoid the need for potential virus-spreading trips to garages and test centres which may themselves be struggling with staff who are ill or self-isolating. Of course, cars must still be kept in a roadworthy condition – garages are not required to close in the way non-food shops have been.

Services on the motorways and major ‘A’ roads will have many fewer customers than usual – and many retail outlets are now closed. But those making essential trips still need rest, toilets and fuel, as well as food and drink. We mustn’t forget the needs of the van and lorry drivers who we hope are bringing, among many other things, loo rolls and pasta to our supermarket! Transport Focus has been in touch with Highways England encouraging it to ensure that those who must still travel are clearly informed about what is still available at which services.

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