Poor road conditions and a failure to open major routes after incidents has led to low levels of satisfaction among hauliers about how motorways and A-roads meet their needs.

A report into the roads network managed by Highways England found just half (52%) of freight, logistics and delivery companies are satisfied.

Many told Transport Focus, the watchdog behind the report, that the state of the roads is costing them money by pushing up their operating costs.

They also said Highways England staff seemed unaware of their obligations to adhere to drivers’ hours rules and the time critical nature of their jobs. The research by Transport Focus found:

  • 26% of managers are dissatisfied and only 52% were satisfied with how Highways England’s roads serve their business
  • Two fifths of the organisations surveyed said their business is threatened by disruption on the road network
  • Two thirds need to arrive within one hour of the time specified in their contractual agreements
  • The survey also found dissatisfaction with roadside facilities, which are widely viewed as poor value for money and lacking secure parking spaces

The FTA said spending by Highways England on motorways and A-roads needed to be prioritised and that the results showed core areas of concerns.

“This includes delays in opening road swiftly following an incident or in sharing adequate information on real time road updates,” said Christopher Snelling, FTA head of UK policy.

“The logistics industry is the beating heart of the UK economy. For it to continue to operate effectively, it needs a road network fully maintained and adapted to meet the needs of logistics businesses.”

The RHA’s Chrys Rampley said a fundamental issue was the time it takes to clear roads following incidents: “Clear up rates seem to take forever. Also the timing: why can’t they wait until later in the evening, for example, when it’s quieter to recover vehicles?”

On the feedback from operators about drivers’ hours, Rampley said: “It probably doesn’t even cross Highways England’s mind, to be honest. There’s probably an education issue there.”

A Highways England spokesman said it was aware how vital motorways and major A-roads are to the logistics industry.

He added: “While we are exceeding our targets for road maintenance, for keeping as many lanes open to traffic as possible and for clearing incidents within an hour – things which are important to all road users – we are not complacent.

“We continue to work closely with our coach and logistics partners to better understand their needs, so that we can further develop our plans and activities, and we value the insight from the Transport Focus report which will help support this ongoing work.”