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Transport User Voice – December – Services on ‘A’ roads managed by Highways England

29 November 2018

Long-distance dual carriageways often carry as much traffic as some motorways, yet roadside facilities on ‘A’ roads are not subject to the same mandatory requirements. Recently, Transport Focus published a new study looking at ‘A’ road services: what users of the A3 and A34 think, which revealed some clear areas for improvement across the road network managed by Highways England.

Somewhat surprisingly, in this study 96 per cent of drivers using services on these two important ‘A’ roads in southern England were satisfied with their experience on the day they were interviewed. The research also confirmed that high level of satisfaction is partly down to the way respondents also have remarkably low expectations of what will be on offer. Bluntly, it isn’t difficult to exceed those expectations and there is ample scope for improvement.

Some individual aspects were rated lower, with the cleanliness of the toilets earning a less generous 81 per cent satisfaction rating, and value for money of fuel rated good by only 62 per cent. ‘A’ road users also tell us they want more warning that services are coming up – on signs similar to those on motorways that show distances to the next few service areas and feature brand logos that flag what is on offer at each site.

Transport Focus wants Highways England to review signage for services on ‘A’ roads – to make sure more are in the right place and include information to help drivers make their choices in good time to leave the road safely. It also wants to see a maximum distance between services on ‘A’ roads (just like there already is for the distance between separate motorway service areas).

A lot of other Transport Focus road user research has confirmed that service areas both contribute to road safety and form an integral part of the road user experience. In research published two years ago, Transport Focus called on Highways England to take action to improve roadside facilities so it better meets the needs of road users. On the back of this survey we not only repeat that request, but also suggest Highways England really needs to get on with delivering this.

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