Highways England presentations at various recent transport industry events have repeatedly referred to the organisation’s three overarching imperatives:
- improving service to customers;
- making roads safer; and
- delivering the Road Investment Strategy.
The development of collaborative relationships with the supply chain has been identified as one of the key enablers which will allow Highways England to successfully attain these goals.
So, what do these three imperatives really mean, and how is the supply chain innovating and collaborating to proactively support Highways England to achieve these objectives?
Arguably, the area where Highways England has the most progress to make is in the development of relationships with customers – becoming better listeners and better at helping customers to drive responsibly and make the best choices. In the Annual Assessment of Performance (April 2017 – March 2018), user satisfaction was 88.7%, slightly below the target 90%.
Some of the priorities highlighted by Highways England customers as in need of improvement included:
- Feeling safe on the network;
- Trusting what they’re being told;
- Being listened to;
- Stress-free journeys; and
- Being in control of their journeys.
The 2017 National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey by Transport Focus reported that delivering satisfactory journey times and managing roadworks effectively on motorways were among the weaker areas. Users want journey times that are predictable. Delays, caused by roadworks, congestion and accidents can undermine that.
Clearview offer a journey time management system, using crowdsource data to improve communication to drivers, specifically when diversions take them off the Highways England managed routes and where INRIX data is not available.
Dynamic queue detection warning systems allow real-time information on what is happening on the road ahead to be shared with drivers and are an effective way of influencing their behaviour, capturing their attention and enabling them to respond safely to building traffic.
All this helps to reduce and minimise driver stress and empowers drivers, so they feel more in control of their journeys.
Ultimately, safety is the primary imperative, with Highways England’s long-term vision being that “no-one should be harmed whilst travelling or working on the Highways England network”. Their target for this RIS (Road Investment Strategy) period to 2020 is a 40% reduction in the number of KSIs from the baseline figure of 2,321 (2005-09 average) to 1,393 by 31 December 2020.
Route safety solutions can demonstrably reduce the risk of collisions at conflict areas, such as junctions, by positively influencing driver behaviour to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring. Strong visual guidance alerts drivers to potential hazards in the road ahead and helps them stay in the correct road position to avoid incidents.
Solarlite Active Road Studs and IRS2 Intelligent Road Studs have been proven to reduce accidents during the hours of darkness by up to 72%. Better visibility of the road layout ahead minimises driver stress by providing clear delineation and increasing the sightlines at key ingress and egress points of the network.
The Active Road Studs have started to gain traction on the Highways England network in several areas, including as part of £8.5 million worth of improvements to journeys along the A38 between Ripley and Junction 28 of the M1 near Mansfield – a stretch that is used by more than 23,000 vehicles every day.
The improvements also include high visibility lane markings and coloured high friction surface that reduces the risk of skidding provided by WJ, our collaborative delivery partner.
There are also new alternatives to traditional systems which can increase road worker wellbeing by offering less intensive, less aggressive installation methods. Compared to traditional inductive loop installation, wireless vehicle detection installation is five times faster, so less time is needed for personnel on the carriageway, reducing the exposure of workers to harm. It is also possible to deploy or upgrade whole sites and junctions in hours rather than days. This minimises road closures and traffic disruption, in turn reducing driver stress and frustration.
Highways England recognise that their ability to deliver their commitments under the Road Investment Strategy is dependent on having the right people, processes and systems to meet their evolving needs.
The new Asset Delivery Model will enable Highways England to directly take control of key maintenance decisions, own the asset data, and focus on the customer need. It will also help to bring innovation and second-tier suppliers closer to allow for more efficient delivery.
The Strategic Road Network (SRN) carries a third of all traffic and two thirds of all freight. Reliable journey times are vital to businesses and necessary to support increased productivity, competitiveness, export and economic growth. Research indicates that journey delays are one of the biggest concerns – and most delays are caused by congestion resulting from network demand.
The National Traffic Information Service (NTIS) manages routes on behalf of Highways England and requires accurate traffic data so roadworks, alternate routes, journey time predictions and network occupancy can be considered in full.
A key component of the NTIS system is Clearview’s Traffic Measurement Unit (TMU) which was originally procured on the HE network back in 2003. This legacy equipment has now been updated and relaunched as the TMU Mk2.
The TMU Mk2 offers an improved, fully supported system with reliable and robust data availability via real-time wireless communications on the unconnected network (routes not covered by Smart Motorways or MIDAS).
We also supplied the vehicle detection equipment for the first use of MIDAS in the UK using inductive loops. Newer technologies are now available to do the job of the inductive loop, such as our wireless vehicle detection magnetometers which are fully type approved and offer reduced maintenance costs and quick installation.
Collaborate to Innovate
Clearview is firmly committed to working in collaboration to design and deliver bespoke solutions based on a strong understanding of the requirements of Highways England and their delivery partners, and in direct response to the needs of their customers and the challenges faced on the strategic road network.