In new research from Transport Focus, the independent transport user watchdog, disabled road users identify a number of changes that could radically improve their use of major roads.
An accessible road network? Disabled user experience on England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads uncovers the barriers disabled people encounter when travelling on roads managed by Highways England.
Speaking after the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, launched the research, Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said:
“Disabled road users tell us how driving gives them independence and a sense of freedom when using public transport may not be possible. More must be done to remove the barriers that disabled people face when they travel on the road network.
“Until now, much of the transport debate around disability has been mostly about public transport. This research widens the discussion to people who drive or are driven, a vital form of mobility for many people.
“Transport Focus wants to see changes that improve information and signage, provide more parking and better located toilets and make petrol pumps more accessible to disabled drivers.”
Transport Focus makes the following recommendations:
- Information: Highways England should do more to publicise information sources for disabled road users when their vehicle brakes down or when stuck in a traffic jam.
- Signage: Highways England (and service operators) should review signage to determine how it could be improved, including for people with cognitive disabilities.
- Parking: site operators and Highways England should work together to increase the number of spaces for disabled visitors in service areas, and do more to minimise the abuse of disabled parking bays. When refurbishing services, operators should locate disabled toilets as close as possible to the entrance.
- Training: recovery providers should review and improve the disability awareness training given to all their staff. The Department for Transport should also consider whether the number and location of driving instructors trained to teach those with cognitive impairment is currently adequate.
- Petrol: retailers must ensure they are compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and make adjustments to ensure disabled customers are not disadvantaged at petrol pumps.