All drivers agree: surfaces on the UK’s major roads suck

Transport Focus, the new watchdog company in UK road usage, has published its list of priorities for the SRN. What’s more, they’ve based results on the most import views of all: those of the car, van and motorcycle drivers subject to our roads’ conditions.

The survey upon which Transport Focus based the report tasked almost 5,000 road users across the spectrum. The intent? To discover what their priorities were for improving UK roads from 17 possible actions.

Are UK road surfaces as bad as all that? Well, yes, they are!

The clear winner, from both car/van respondees and motorcyclists, was “improved quality of road surfaces”. One respondent, who travels on French motorways on a regular basis, puts theirs “far, far ahead of UK motorways”.

The main problem, for which UK roads have become synonymous, is potholes. Every winter, more roads seem pockmarked with them.

Repairs only seem to happen once the hole has become so dangerous it’s the cause of an RTA. By then, the cost of repair and any insurance claim is already inevitable.

But many other aspects are causing van, car and in particular motorcycle riders problems. Other specific criticisms of the surfaces of our Strategic Road Network included:

  • noisy concrete on the M27;
  • drainage on the M62;
  • general erosion between motorway lanes.

Other priorities of note for UK car and van drivers

Beyond a resounding agreement on the first priority, the list separated thereafter between drivers on four wheels and those on two.

Not surprising, design and maintenance was next up for those on four wheels.

Slip road safety, sufficient traffic volume capacity and speed limits (the inclusion of more) were specific requirements cited by drivers.

Second for motorcyclists was “better behaved drivers.”

Mirroring the speed limits warning from four-wheel drivers, motorcyclists are also conscious of other drivers breaking the speed limits.

Motorcyclists also cited undertaking and overtaking (for HGVs) a specific problem, one rider claiming,

“What spoils the journey [is] inconsiderate car drivers.”

Argue with (any of) that, if you will.

Are motorists likely to get what they want?

We can’t publish an update today without mentioning the budget. And the new bands of VED (road tax) are sure to have an impact on what money the department for transport will spend on UK roads.

For existing car owners, their road tax is ring-fenced. That’s in line with the government’s pledge in March’s budget to spend £15bn on the road network.

So the short answer is, yes. Some of the improvements drivers have asked for they may well get, in time. The government’s priorities and theirs may, however, differ.

But new road tax bands, which are based on CO2 emissions, have raised other concerns. Electric and ultra-low emission vehicles are enjoying widescale uptake. It’s great for the environment, but it’s also key for meeting EU specifications.

The new VED reforms, explained in depth by the BBC, seem to disincentivise fleet managers to go green beyond the first year of vehicle ownership.

For businesses and fleet managers with budgets to adhere to, electric vans may well become a less favourable option. With fuel duty also frozen, those who favour petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles will be happy, at least. Not to mention the fuel companies, themselves…

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