The figure for the cost of heavy delays caused by UK road works has been estimated at a staggering £4bn, annually. That’s a lot of man hours going to waste for businesses that can ill afford to spend their resources thus. Not to mention the cost of fuel as commercial vehicles sit idling at temporary traffic lights or tail-backs caused by lane closures on motorways and dual carriageways the length and breadth of the country.
Having gone a long way to addressing the clear-up rate of major traffic accidents last month with the planned implementation of the CLEAR system, the government is now to hand the reigns of control over to local councils for targeting sub-contract roadworkers who carry out their tasks at rush hour on the most populated roads within their borough.
In a move to incentivise utility companies such as the various water boards, electricity companies and gas mains services to carry out their work off-peak, Transport Minister Norman Baker announced that Councils now have the choice to bill such companies for any disruption it causes at times when the roads would be congested with traffic even without their maintenance taking place.
It is hoped that the possible fine of £2,500 will encourage this type of running repair, necessary or not, to now either be completed in a shorter space of time or can be scheduled to take place overnight or when the roads are less busy.
This type of work can be very frustrating for businesses who have urgent deliveries held up in queues caused by roadworks; the costs can come from a whole myriad of conceivable angles. If, for example, you have paid an express courier for an urgent lineside delivery only for the shipment to be held up by roadworks your customer may resort to charging you for a ‘line-stop’ fee for down-time, especially if they had already conceded to pay the logistic firm’s fee. Likewise, manhours wasted is money down the drain, not to mention the frustration for the driver who may be at the end of a long shift and approaching his time limit on the road.
Then there is the cost to the planet to consider, with so much unnecessary CO2 being pumped into the air.
But the most frustrating aspect is when your driver has an accident whilst waiting in a queue which, according to many van insurance sites, is one of the times an incident is most likely to occur. With focus so very difficult to maintain when crawling at a snail’s pace, distractions are commonplace and, before you know it, you’re having to claim on your fleet van insurance policy due to your driver bumping the tail-end in front. With the current ‘compensation culture’ rife from accident claims, so many claims are going in against van insurance policies for whiplash, whether they’re justified or not, personal injury claims lawyers are very astute at winning those cases. And one of the other main causes is when the traffic that has been held up is starting to clear ahead and your driver, from his often higher vantage point, sees the traffic in front pick up a pace and pulls off accordingly but the vehicle in front is yet to register the speedier traffic flow; again, they are being tail-ended and claiming against your company’s van insurance policy.
So, is it worth £2,500 of tax-payer’s money to clear the roads at rush hour? The sooner, the better.