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Britain's roads still plagued by roadworks

Press release: 17/06/2015

  • Freedom of Information request reveals 21% increase in roadwork numbers since last year
  • A third of car journeys are now affected by roadworks
  • Argyll and Bute Council has the highest number of outstanding road maintenance projects (837), followed by Gloucestershire County Council (734) and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (656)

The number of roadworks on Britain's roads continues to rise, according to new research.

There has been a 21%[1] rise in the number of outstanding roadworks per local council when compared to last year, according to a Freedom of Information request issued by LV= Road Rescue. As a result, a third (33%) of all car journeys made by British motorists are now affected by a road maintenance project[2].

Of those who responded to the FOI request, Argyll and Bute Council has the highest number of outstanding road maintenance projects (837), followed by Gloucestershire County Council (734) and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (656).

Local authorities assign large budgets to improving and maintaining the quality of the country's roads. Last year, each council spent an average of £6 million on road maintenance projects in their local area[3]. But in spite of this, more than half (55%) of motorists feel that the state of the roads in their area are actually declining.

While a separate Freedom of Information request to the Highways Agency also carried out by LV= Road Rescue showed an increase in the number of projects completed on motorways and major A-roads in 2014 compared to 2013[4] polling suggests that these roads are still an irritation to many drivers.

According to motorists, the the M1 is Britain's most frustrating motorway for roadworks. In fact, the M1 has one of the longest ongoing roadworks projects: an improvement scheme at Junction 10a was started in October 2013 and is still not finished[5]. The M1 was closely followed by the M6 and M25[6]. (See Table 2 at the bottom of the release.)

Seven in ten (70%) motorists who encounter roadworks are subjected to traffic jams and delays, but many also come across sections of roads that are completely out of action. Three in five (59%) motorists who have experienced roadworks have had to change their route due to a diversion – with the average diversion being four miles long. However, some drivers have been diverted as much as ten miles out of their way.

But roadworks are not just an inconvenience, they can also cause harm to your car. One in twenty (5%) motorists who have experienced roadworks have had their car breakdown as a result, while close to a million have had their car damaged, typically through bumps and scrapes with other vehicles or internal damage such as worn-down brake-pads or an over-heated engine.

It is extremely difficult for local authorities to maintain the quality of the country's roads without affecting the flow of traffic. Leaving the engine running for long periods of time can be harmful to a car's components, so if motorists find themselves stuck in stationary traffic for more than a minute, they should switch off the engine so it doesn't overheat and cause unnecessary damage to the car.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= Road Rescue

For further details, visit www.lv.com/breakdown-cover .

Table 1. Councils with the highest number of roadworks in their area*

Council area

Number of road maintenance projects currently underway

Argyll & Bute Council

837

Gloucestershire County Council

734

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

656

Darlington Borough Council

475

Hartlepool Borough Council

261

Vale of Glamorgan

221

Telford & Wrekin Council

217

Brighton & Hove City Council

115

West Dunbartonshire Council

57

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

41

*Of those who responded to the FOI request at the time of collation

Table 2. The top 10 motorways that motorists find the most frustrating for roadworks**

Ranking

Motorway

1

M1

2

M6

3

M25

4

M5

5

M4

6

M62

7

M3

8

M60

9

M40

10

M8

**Based on ICM data.

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Notes to editors:

All research unless stated otherwise was conducted by ICM research between 11 and 13 March 2015. ICM questioned a representative sample of 2,002 Britons about their experience of driving and roadworks.

In addition, LV= issued a Freedom of Information request on 27 February 2015 to the Highways Agency (England), Transport Scotland, the Welsh Government, and all 206 city, borough and county councils. At the time of collation, we had received data from 109 councils and the Highways Agency. The Freedom of Information request was not sent to the district councils and local councils in Ireland, as previous FOI responses that LV= has received from these state they are not responsible for roadworks.

  1. Source: FOI data. There are 139 outstanding roadworks per council on average. This is notably higher than this time last year, when an FOI from LV= revealed there to be 115 roadworks per council on average. This illustrates a 21% rise in the past year.
  2. Source: ICM polling.
  3. Source: FOI data. 59 councils had responded to the question "How much did your council spend on road maintenance projects in total last year (2014)?". The total given was £353,594,062, divided by 59 = £5,993,120 per council area.
  4. Source: FOI data. According to the Highways Authority, 1,542 roadworks projects were completed in 2014 compared to 1,352 in 2013.
  5. Source: FOI data. According to the Central Bedfordshire Council FOI response.
  6. Source: ICM. 17% and 16% of motorists, respectively, said the level of roadworks on the M6 and M25 frustrated them.
  7. Source: ICM. Motorists were asked how long (in miles) the longest official diversion they had followed was, and the average was 10.13 miles.

For further information please contact:

Emma Banks, emma.banks@LV.com, 0208 256 6714 / 07894 158605

Sinead Meckin, sinead@thirdcity.co.uk, 0203 657 9779 / 07815 489087


LV=

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When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.