Driver experience of major roads and roadworks has implications for both safety and satisfaction. Pell Frischmann are proud to have worked with Highways England and Ipsos MORI to better understand that experience.
Highways England has a major investment plan to enhance the UK’s strategic road network. In doing so, it is seeking to better understand how drivers and passengers felt during major roadworks. To support this, we Joined forces with research specialist Ipsos MORI to discover exactly how road users felt passing through major roadworks, and by extension, how to improve it.
With this aim, we created a panel consisting of diverse road users from a range of major projects taking place across the country. Together with Ipsos MORI and highways England, we identified five unique major projects that allowed the gathering of in depth user insights. These projects involved of works the M3, M5, M6, A14, and A19/A1058.
Insights found that when driving through major projects, users were most concerned about their safety, especially when signpost were unclear.
At the start of our research, the M3 was largely at the point of finalisation, with most of its work completed whilst the A14 was at the other end of the spectrum having not yet started most works, but was in a unique situation as its users were eager for it to be built in the local area and were finally glad of its advancement. The other roads were at various stages between
To gather the most diverse and concentrated data, each major project followed a unique approach. This led to following standard and innovative processes being proposed, such as the recruiting of local panels to discuss satisfaction levels, going out to service stations to interview users along selected routes, providing driver accompanied journeys through road works, and using mobile sensor activated alerts to identify drivers passing major projects to later send a short survey concerning their experience.
Having not gone out proactively and completed this type of research before, there were some concern with stakeholders such as Highway England’s project teams and contractors that we were going to generate a lot complaints from drivers.
Road users were also dissatisfied by the unwillingness of other road users to follow modified speed limits, seeing it as dangerous and unfair.
With Ipsos MORI’s experience in similar projects and our expertise on the design side, we were able to reassure stakeholders that by partaking in proactive interviews with road users, we were likely to find a more positive outlook that allowed constructive criticisms about major projects. This fruitfully happened over time and proved the project very successful.
Insights found that when driving through major projects, users were most concerned about their safety, especially when signpost were unclear. Additionally, road users were also dissatisfied by the unwillingness of other road users to follow modified speed limits, seeing it as dangerous and unfair. Deeper analysis found that road users were uncomfortable with the narrowing of paths due to roadworks. However, this discovery may have highlighted that the presence of major works may have created a false perception of lanes being narrowed, as well as actual narrowing in some cases.
Our work for Highways England has been extremely successful as data from hundreds of road users were analysed, taking their views into consideration to find solutions for possible discontent on roads. Due to this accomplishment, Highways England have again chosen Pell Frischmann and partners Ipsos MORI to research deeper into the improvement of user perceptions within individual projects, a study that looks to take user satisfaction to another level through to 2019.
- 338 - road users surveyed across the five panels.
- 6 - major projects tested
- 20 - specific recommendation for improved user experience