Highway inspections

Highway inspections are necessary to identify associated defects, the need for routine/planned maintenance work and unlawful obstruction/interference with the highway.

Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 imposes a duty on the highway Authority (Hampshire County Council) to maintain those roads, footways and cycletracks that are ‘Highways maintainable at public expense’.

Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 states that a statutory defence against third party claims is provided where the Highway Authority can establish that reasonable care has been taken to ‘secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates’ to a level commensurate with the volume of ordinary traffic such that it ‘was not dangerous to traffic’.

Section 130 of the Highways Act 1980 places a general duty on the Highway Authority to ‘assert and protect the rights of the public’ in their lawful use of the highway.

The Roads Liaison Group’s Well Maintained Highways Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management sets out recommended minimum standards of highway inspections.


To ensure a consistent Countywide approach a formalised system that prescribes the frequency of inspections and the method of assessment, recording and actioning of highway defects has been adopted.

In order to satisfy Hampshire County Council’s legal obligations a formalised system of highway inspections shall be adopted and carried out.

There are three types of highway inspections that shall be carried out on Hampshire’s highways

  • scheduled inspections shall be carried out to identify highway defects or instances of obstruction or interference that are deemed to be a danger to highway users and thus require immediate attention to protect the highway user and keep the highway safe.

  • condition inspections shall be carried out to assess the condition of the network and the need for planned structural maintenance.

  • specific inspections shall be undertaken following a particular request, need or demand, where there are exceptional circumstances or in response to claims being made against the Highway Authority.

All defects identified from highway scheduled and specific inspections shall be prioritised into treatment types according to the severity of the defect and likelihood that it will present a hazard to road users. This priority designation shall also determine the timescale for remedial works;

Category 1X (Emergency) Defect – complete rectification (make-safe, if not rectify) within 2 hours

Category 1A Safety Defect – complete rectification (make-safe, if not rectify) within 24 hours

Category 2B Safety Defect – complete rectification (make-safe, if not rectify) within 10 working days

Category 2C Safety Defect – complete rectification within 2 months from defect being raised.

Category 2M Safety Defect – No action necessary at this time.

Other defects not prioritised as above do not require any remedial works action and shall be monitored for deterioration.

Scheduled inspection frequencies


Category Frequency each year
2Strategic routes12
3(a)Main distributor12
3(b)Secondary distributor12
4(a)Local interconnecting roads4
4(b)Local access roads1


Category Frequency each year
1aPrestige walking route12
1Primary walking route12
2Secondary walking route4
3Link footway2
4Local access roads1


Category Frequency each year
IPart of carriagewayas for roads
IIRemote from carriageway - surfacedas for footways
Special Inspections
Safety fences - tensioningEvery 2 years
Drainage culverts - superficialBased on assessed flood risk but every 3 years as a guide and up to 5 years in lower risk areas.
Petrol interceptors2
Cattle grids1
Non illuminated traffic signs - retro reflectivityReactive
White lines - retro reflectivityReactive