Tunnel Vision: New research highlights road users' concerns

06/12/2018
Dominic Browne

As Highways England prepares for several major tunnelling projects, it has teamed up with watchdog Transport Focus for some timely insight into road user concerns around these key assets.

Proposed new tunnels at A303 Stonehenge and the Lower Thames Crossing will double the length of tunnels on Highways England’s Strategic Road Network.

A computer generated image of the proposed tunnel for the A303 at Stonehenge

Using qualitative research conducted with road users, as well as a literature review, Transport Focus recommended that Highways England keep the following issues in mind:

  • ensure the specific needs of disabled road users are met when using existing and new tunnels, including providing wheelchair-friendly emergency escape routes
  • provide timely, accurate information about estimated travel time to allow road users to plan rest stops – particularly important for lorry drivers
  • ensure tunnels are intuitive to use and that specific ‘rules’ about speed and overtaking are clear
  • increase awareness of what to do if you break down or there is an emergency
  • learn from experiences in other countries about how to avoid monotony and boredom in longer tunnels.

This research suggested that road users anticipate changes to the ‘rules of the road’ when driving through tunnels, but they are unsure what these are. Specifically, the areas of confusion tend to be:

  • speed limits
  • changing lanes
  • overtaking
  • how large a gap to leave between the vehicle in front
  • whether to use lights, and which lights to use
  • what to do in an emergency
  • what to do if their vehicle breaks down
  • ability to stop and rest in a tunnel (especially a longer one).

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: 'Road users expect driving in tunnels to be intuitive. Highways England must do more to remove confusion about speed limits, overtaking, and what to do if you break down.

'Highways England should also ensure that its existing tunnels are maintained to high standards, including road surfaces, lighting and cleanliness.'

Mike Wilson, executive director ans chief highway engineer at Highways England, said: 'Tunnels are rare structures that are not, for many drivers, a regular experience. Safety systems are a particular characteristic of tunnels and it is important that we understand our customers’ perspectives on safety and tunnel environments. This report contributes to that understanding.

'We are drawing on the best international engineering and human factors expertise when reviewing our standards and educating drivers around the safe use of tunnels – and we will incorporate these useful recommendations into that body of work.'

Highways jobs

Major Projects Senior Officer

Cornwall Council
£32,641 - £39,961
Cornwall Council is proud to be working in partnership to create a unique new community Cornwall
Recuriter: Cornwall Council

Team Leader NRSWA & Traffic Management

Bedford Borough Council
£37,107 - £41,846 per annum
To Manage a team carrying out the Councils duties under the Traffic Management Act and the New Roads and Street Works Act. Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Strategic Director - Regeneration & Environment

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Competitive Salary
As the Strategic Director of Regeneration & Environment, you’ll be part of the strategic corporate leadership team Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior/Principal Highway Network Management Officer

Bristol City Council
£30,746 - £37,107
These are exciting times in Bristol, as there is considerable investment in its transport and highway infrastructure in recent years City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Head of Highways, Transport and Recycling

Powys County Council
Head of Service 1 £75,767 - £82,453 per annum
Powys County Council, open and enterprising Llandrindod Wells, Powys
Recuriter: Powys County Council

Head of Housing and Community Development

Powys County Council
£75,767 - £82,453 per annum
Powys County Council, open and enterprising Llandrindod Wells
Recuriter: Powys County Council

Head of Property, Planning and Public Protection

Powys County Council
Head of Service 2 £66,854 - £73,540 per annum
Powys County Council, open and enterprising Llandrindod Wells, Powys
Recuriter: Powys County Council

Senior Engineer

Wirral Borough Council
£30,756 to £33,136
No holding back. No excuses. Just change Wirral. Bring it on. Wirral, Merseyside
Recuriter: Wirral Borough Council

Chief Executive

Epping Forest District Council
up to £120k
A role with roots in our community. Epping, Essex
Recuriter: Epping Forest District Council

Housing Renewal Technical Officer

Torridge District Council
£21,074 — £26,470 per annum
Advice to private sector tenants, landlords, & owner-occupiers about housing disrepair & energy issues. Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Principal Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£34,106 - £37,107 - PO6/SCP 38
To provide project leadership on the design, implementation and project management on major traffic Engineering schemes. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Programme Manager Central

Oxfordshire County Council
£37,107 - £43,757
We’re on a mission to enhance Oxfordshire – and with you by our side, that vision just became a reality. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Planning Obligations Manager

Oxfordshire County Council
£37,107 - £47,575
Committed to supporting growth across the county, you will ensure financial contributions are being actively and efficiently managed. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Funeral Assistant

Brent Council
£28,356 - £30,108 p.a. inc. plus Standby Allowance
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Area Engineer

Camden London Borough Council
£31,836 to £36,931
Does a combination of outdoor and office based work appeal to you? Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Includes:

  • Interviews with Jesse Norman and Jim O'Sullivan
  • Michael Matheson on road safety in Scotland
  • Traffex Road Expo Scotland review
View the latest issue

Latest Video