UK industry association calls for better road maintenance

Tunbridge Wells, UK: The Freight Transport Association wants greater transparency from local authorities to promote more proportionate spending on the repair and maintenance of roads.

The association supports recommendations by the Audit Commission that local authorities benchmark costs and whole-life maintenance plans.

The association estimates that tyres and maintenance account for over 10% of the costs of running a typical large truck.

“Commercial vehicle operators contribute massively to the economy via taxes, is it too much to ask that our roads are fit-for-purpose? After all, the not inconsiderable cost of damage caused to trucks and vans by poorly maintained roads cannot be reclaimed from the local authorities. The resulting inflation, as additional transport costs get passed to the customer, is certainly not good for UK PLC,” says Malcolm Bingham, The Freight Transport Association’s head of road network management policy.

“The Audit Commission has identified that local highways authorities maintain 98% of the country’s roads, yet the level of spending on improving road conditions differs widely between them and seems to bear no resemblance to road condition or size of network. This has to change and we support the Commissions’ calls for greater transparency across local authorities both in benchmarking costs and whole-life maintenance plans,” he says.

“Poor road quality also has a considerable impact on road safety. While recognising that our roads are getting safer, the Road Safety Foundation identified that road collisions account for up to 2.3% of the UK’s gross national product,” Bingham says.

“Aside from the obvious imperative to improve the safety of all road users, with potential savings of £35bn to be found there is also a strong business case for improving safety levels on our A-roads. But the challenge doesn’t stop at better road design and could be undermined by inadequate maintenance,” he says.