The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its Annual Assessment of Highways England’s performance, praising the job of managing the motorways and A-roads of the country.
According to the report, Highways England is delivering its work more efficiently, with targets met for road maintenance, clearing incidents, completing improvement schemes and reducing deaths and serious injuries; the latter point is one that is increasingly important as central and local governments are prioritising safety more than ever before.
For 2017 – the last year for which road safety targets are available, it shows that fewer people were killed or seriously injured than in any previous year.
Many targets have been exceeded according to the Annual Assessment of Highways England’s performance; by keeping 98.3% of the network open to traffic in 2018-19, it meant Highways England beat its target of 97%.
Elsewhere in the Annual Assessment of Highways England’s performance, the organisation was able to clear 88% of incidents within an hour, which is 3% above target.
Highways England ensured 95.5% of road surface is in good condition – once again, slightly above target.
The Road Investment Strategy is currently ongoing; this scheme will see £15 billion spent on motorways and A-roads between 2015 and 2020; originally, 112 schemes were meant to start in those five years.
This has been changed to 70 and in 2018-19, four major schemes commenced, with two revised in order to minimise any disruption; one has not yet started but is under review because of changes to nearby local roads.
Graham Richards, ORR Director of Planning and Performance, praised the work undertaken by Highways England, but also said improvements could be made, particularly around road user satisfaction.
He said: “Highways England is doing well. Its plans for delivering improvements have changed significantly, but it is generally delivering in line with the changed plan and it is keeping roads open and helping to make roads safer.
“However, it can improve further. Road user satisfaction is below target and congestion is rising and Highways England must take action in these areas.”