Highways England is one of the most important professional bodies for those making a living as a courier driver, as it controls all the major motorways and main A-roads in the UK. Sadly, according to a recent survey by the watchdog, Transport Focus, many in the industry are unhappy with the work it does. Read on for a list of issues and some information on how Transport Focus intends to work moving forward. |
The 2018 Logistics and Coach Manager Survey: England’s Strategic Roads was put together by Transport Focus to examine how those working in the industry rated the performance of Highways England. Business representatives at all levels were asked for their opinions, and were able to identify key problems as well as expressing general levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The responses are likely to be unsurprising to a courier driver with experience of the issues.
The results are not pretty for Highways England. Over a quarter (26%) of managers were dissatisfied with how Highways England served their business, and only just over half (52%) reported themselves satisfied. Even worse, two out of five organisations said disruption on the roads threatened their business.
HGV operators were especially unhappy with the quality of UK road surfaces. As any courier driver knows, poor surfacing can push up operating costs significantly, increasing wear and tear on vehicles and leading to increased need for repairs. In addition to harming business, all this can make operators’ lives difficult, leading to long waits for maintenance and scrambling to make up for delays. Unsurprisingly, Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith drew attention to this in his remarks, noting that ‘almost one third’ of managers surveyed commented on this problem.
Complaints about roadworks came in a close second, with businesses and managers demanding more, better and quicker information on disruptions - both before the fact and in real time. Any professional driver knows the stress of recalibrating routes and timings while on the road. Moreover, as Smith points out, many works extend journey times ‘at night when so much freight is on the move.’ And all these problems are made worse by the need to take into account regulations governing how many hours a driver can spend on the road.
The survey also found dissatisfaction with the quality of roadside services, which are seen as too expensive and with too little parking and insufficient security to ensure a HGV or courier driver could safely leave their vehicle during a rest stop.
It would be easy to view all this as simply an indictment of Highways England’s road management. But Transport Focus insists there is a silver lining. The group is determined, it says, to pressure Highways England to take account of these issues going forward, especially ahead of the next road investment period (2020-25).
While these responses clearly raise issues, they also give Transport Focus the data it needs to make demands of Highways England.
Author Plate Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier driver work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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