Signs advising “abuse will not be tolerated” are a familiar sight in our hospitals and on public transport. Exposure to abusive behaviour is not something any of us would want for ourselves, or our family.
However, it is increasingly common in the highways industry. Our operatives not only face the risks associated with working adjacent to live traffic, but are now exposed to aggression from some of the very people they are working to help.
We are actively supporting the Highways and Transportation Maintenance Association’s (HTMA) campaign to stop road worker abuse.
During 2016, we recorded 689 events where operatives working on the network were put at risk by driver behaviour. These instances included traffic management breaches and strikes, as well as abuse and threatening behaviour from members of the public.
Verbal threats against operatives are a frequent occurrence, but are intimidating nonetheless. Of greater concern is how quickly aggressive behaviour from drivers can escalate in to a physical confrontation.
During 2016, we recorded 337 traffic management breaches, several of which could have been life-changing for the operatives involved.
Although frequently on the receiving end of abuse, we do recognise a number of factors that can lead to driver frustration, and we’re keen to overcome them.
Road user information is key to minimising driver frustration. We work with Highways England to ensure that electronic variable message signs are activated where possible to share information with the travelling public. We also apply the same thought process when delivering planned maintenance work with a focus placed upon ensuring that the signage displayed in advance of and during work is clear and useful.
Sadly, it would appear that some people just don’t seem to respect road workers. We’re just doing our jobs – whether that’s helping to clear accidents, fix potholes, or remove broken down vehicles – our aim is to get the road open safely as quickly as possible.
Please, respect our roadworkers.