Researching our way to better roads

28 November 2018

By Iain Ritchie, Performance Analyst, Roads.

Iain Ritchie, Performance Analyst, RoadsPut simply, it’s our role to look into what Highways England does – how it spends your money on building and maintaining roads – and report back on whether or not it is doing a good job.

To do that, every year we carry out in-depth reviews to take a closer look at areas of Highways England’s work and performance.

This work helps us to challenge Highways England to provide a better service for road users. But it’s also about recognising good practice where we see it, and generating valuable insight that can feed into the development of the next road investment strategy from 2020.

For example, last year we commissioned work to look at how Highways England manages roadworks, and to compare its approach to other organisations. Highways England was keen to engage with this project, and has used the recommendations to inform its work.

We have carried out more benchmarking work this year – including studies of road condition and how Highways England clears incidents – and we will publish the results of these with our benchmarking report this winter.

Looking forward, we will shortly be carrying out a joint study with Highways England, looking at the information that’s available to road users to help make their journeys better. We will look at how information currently reaches Highways England’s customers – whether from social media, road signage, websites or other media.

Good quality, useful information really matters to road users – it’s vital for planning journeys and deciding what do if there’s disruption. By working closely with Highways England we aim to generate valuable insight and identify ways to improve road user information in the future.

We are also starting work to review how Highways England encourages innovation – to help it deliver more efficiently. And that will continue alongside our work looking at Highways England’s performance as a manager of the key assets that make up the country’s motorways and A roads.

All of this work helps support increased transparency around how the strategic road network is managed in England and, importantly, how it can be improved in the interest of road users.