Why we inspect
We have a statutory duty under the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the highway network. Our aim is to keep the highway in as good a condition as possible by undertaking planned maintenance and maintaining safety by fixing defects such as potholes and defective manhole covers. Prevention being better than cure, it is not only more cost-effective but also results in better quality roads, footways and cycleways in the county.
This is where we decide in advance which highway is going to be inspected and at what frequency. The busier the highway, the higher frequency of inspection. For example, busy town centres and the main road network are inspected monthly whereas a local rural lane may be inspected annually. This makes our budget go further, helps to extend the life of a stretch of road and reduces the chance of problems happening in the future. We follow an inspection routine to help us get the information we need so that we can deal with the most urgent road repairs and safety defects first.
We get lots of reports of issues from customers. We want to know about these, so if you see a highways problem, please report it using our online form. Our target to inspect these reports is 3 working days. We also have a team of highways officers who travel the county all year round, inspecting road conditions. If something is spotted during an inspection, then the highways officer investigates it in more detail.
When we find out about a highways problem, we will make a decision on whether to do something about it. Our decision will be based on how severe the problem is and the location.
How we inspect
Our safety inspections identify problems that may become hazardous to road users. The risk of the hazard is assessed by our highways team at the site so that the correct action can be taken. Some defects will be assessed as not being urgent but still need attention. We will plan these in to be fixed as part of our planned routine maintenance, but the works may be done at a later date.
Our Highways teams use our Highway Safety Inspection Manual as a guide to help them when completing a risk assessment of a defect. It gives guidelines about how quickly we should investigate and examples to help us make the best decisions.
Our teams also use their judgement to assess the risks that apply to what they find at the site and use their expertise to decide when the repair should be done. There may be times when the priority that is given is different to the manual. The reasons for any decision will be recorded at the time of the inspection.
What we do next
After the problem has been inspected, we will plan in the work needed to repair it or pass it to our contractor.
The decision on what action we take is based on:
- how bad the problem is – for example how long or deep a pothole is; and
- where the problem is – for example how busy the road is.
We use these factors to prioritise the problem and either repair it or make it safe within a set timescale. Serious problems or problems on busier roads will get fixed the fastest. Some issues may be planned in for future repair as part of our planned maintenance programme.
We may not take any action if it is not a safety issue and is not bad enough for us to repair. If we decide not to take action, we will continue to monitor the problem when we do our planned inspections. We will plan work in to fix the problem if the problem gets worse.
Roads that we are not responsible for
The M5, A303 and A36 are operated and maintained by Highways England and are not part of the road network that we are responsible for. Enquiries relating to motorways and trunk roads should be referred to Highways England.