Transport User Voice – September 2019 – Better information on road closures

02 September 2019

Ensuring Highways England improves provision

Transport Focus will press hard over the coming months for more useful and effective information for road users on the strategic road network, with the goal of increasing satisfaction with what Highways England provides. An important part of this must be more accurate and accessible information about planned roadworks, particularly where these require a road be closed temporarily.

Some roadworks are the subject of formal Traffic Regulation Orders (‘TROs’), which all highway authorities must use to secure the legal power to close a road. The Department for Transport (DfT) is in the midst of a review of its procedures for TROs, and earlier this summer asked Transport Focus to gauge the views of road users on how they currently find out about changes to the road network, and how they would prefer to be informed in future.

Over 3,000 members of the Transport User Panel (a group of people across the country who give their views about specific issues) responded to a questionnaire on this topic, and confirmed widespread dissatisfaction: only a quarter of those surveyed felt they are informed sufficiently in advance of roadworks that affect them, and three in ten do not see any advance notification – either on roadside signage or through local media reporting of authorised closures. Respondents much preferred to learn of future restrictions through signage, but away from the roadside there is a preference for alerts through IT-based channels such as navigation apps or social media, rather than newspaper reporting or notification by the relevant highway authority.

This evidence from Transport Focus is underpinning an initiative employing artificial intelligence highlighted recently by the Department for Transport that aims to make the most of data from Highways England and other highway authorities about planned changes to the road network.

For its part, Transport Focus will work with Highways England to minimise inaccuracies in the data it provides, through whatever channel, because its research shows that accurate information is a key component of user satisfaction with the Strategic Road Network.

Read the full Transport Focus report.

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