Mike Waters' blog: 8 September 2011 - Dealing with disruption
08 September 2011
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
It feels like the majority of car journeys involve enforced speed limits or delays due to road works. At a time when congestion is an issue for many drivers, at best this means more time in the car, while at worst it can mean the stress and aggravation of being stuck behind the wheel in a jam.
Of course it's important that the road network is properly maintained and with more traffic on the roads than ever, wear and tear is inevitable. However, while some maintenance is essential, many road works are much less time sensitive, for example those carried out by utility companies.
Estimates on the loss to the economy from road work congestion go as high as £4 billion a year. With this in mind transport secretary Philip Hammond has announced a consultation to look specifically at this issue and the potential introduction of 'lane rental' - something that will please the majority of drivers.
Under 'lane rental' schemes councils would be able to charge utility companies to dig up the busiest roads during peak times when road works cause the most disruption. Companies would be able to avoid the charges by carrying out works during quieter periods or, if possible, at night. So in a nutshell, companies are being incentivised to cause the minimum amount of disruption.
At this stage, it sounds likely that this concept will be trialled in a couple of areas to gauge its effectiveness. Should the trial be successful we could see a reduction in road works during busy times and therefore a better flow of traffic.
So drivers should plan their routes and travel at a sensible time to avoid congestion but road works can be difficult to avoid. Therefore, anything that can be done to keep our roads in good shape and reduce delays has to be welcomed and I will be following this one with interest.
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