What do road users want? Better road surfaces

Quality of road surface came out is the top priority for drivers says Transport Focus, well ahead of ‘guaranteed journey times’ that has been the recent focus for the industry.

M1 and M621

Independent watchdog Transport Focus has published its first research into road users’ priorities for improvement on the motorways and main ‘A’ roads in England.

Top priority for improvement is ‘quality of road surfaces’ – and by a considerable margin. Safer design and maintenance of roads, better behaved drivers and the better management of roadworks are also in the top four priorities.

“Drivers wanted surfaces that produce less noise, they wanted surfaces that were safe even in poor weather and they wanted surfaces giving a more comfortable ride.”

The organisation asked nearly 5000 car and van drivers and motorcyclists to rank their priorities for improvement. The results are broken down by type of vehicle, region, age, gender, disability and journey purpose and length.

The research is the first large-scale quantitative research the watchdog has carried out since starting to represent users of England’s major roads in March.

When road users talked about ‘quality of road surfaces’ they were not just talking about potholes, although that is an issue even on the strategic road network (SRN)” Transport Focus said. “Drivers also wanted surfaces that produce less noise (concrete roads were mentioned as a particular problem), they wanted surfaces that were safe even in poor weather and they wanted surfaces giving a more comfortable ride.”

For motorcyclists, deterioration of the surface between lanes was mentioned as a particular problem when overtaking.

Reduced journey times is ranked by drivers as the sixth highest priority for improvement, although this moved up to second place for commuters and third place for business users.

The organisation says that it expects some to be surprised that ‘increased reliability of journey times’ is only the seventh highest priority for improvement. “We cannot say for certain, but there are two possible explanations. First, it could be because relatively few people encounter problems with journey time reliability when they use the SRN - Highways England’s monitoring shows the vast majority of journeys are completed on time. Second, it could be that some road users factor in variation in journey time based on experience and so cease to regard it as a problem.”

Better management of unplanned delays such as accidents or breakdowns is more important to women drivers from all age groups who ranked it third, than men drivers who ranked it fifth and sixth across different age groups. For drivers using the M25, reduced journey time was ranked the second highest priority for improvement.

Read the research here 


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