The humble white line

The LifeLines report from the Road Safety Markings Association is a survey of over 7,000km of the UK’s road network to determine the state of its road markings.
    
The highways industry generally accepts that road markings are the most cost‑effective safety device available to road engineers, according to the RSMA. Markings guide road users, provide advance warning of potential dangers ahead and create a safer environment for all using the shared space, be they motorists, pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists.      
    
George Lee, national director of the RSMA said: “The humble white line can save lives and it is therefore important that they are maintained to a sufficient standard that they do their job properly. If a line is so worn that it cannot be seen, it may as well not be there.”
    
In the case of England, the survey, which was released in March, found that half of all road markings on English highways are so worn that they need replacing. Likewise, in Wales, well over half of the roads controlled by the Assembly for Wales are in such poor condition they need replacing, and only one per cent of markings on Wales’ motorways are classed as excellent. In Scotland, the report found the standard of road safety markings on the country’s roads to be of “significant concern” and in places inadequate.

ENGLAND
The survey found that in England, 52 per cent of markings on motorways, 42 per cent on dual carriageways, and 48 per cent on single carriageways all need replacing immediately or need to be scheduled for replacement now. The survey shows that just 16 per cent of markings on England’s motorways and 13 per cent on single carriageways make the “excellent” grade.
    
The section of road surveyed in England which scored the lowest rating with 94 per cent of markings in need of replacing or in need of being scheduled for replacement was a section of the M3 between Bagshot and Camberley. The section of road surveyed which scored the highest rating with zero per cent of markings in need of replacing and 99 per cent in the “excellent” grade was on A34 from the junction of the A44 (Kidlington) and the M40 (Bicester).
    
The RSMA is hopeful that the findings reported in LifeLines England will help the Highways Agency, local authorities and main contractors, identify where adequate resources are being spent on road markings and where inadequate attention is being paid to road markings.

The RSMA met with the Highways Agency prior to publishing the report to share with them the findings of the survey. The Agency has welcomed the opportunity of working with the RSMA to “understand the results further.”
    
SCOTLAND COMMITS TO BETTER ROADS
In the case of Scotland, the survey found that the standard of road safety markings on the country’s roads is of “significant concern” and in places inadequate.   
    
Following the publication, Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government Agency responsible for the country’s trunk roads and motorways, will work with the Road Safety Markings Association to improve the quality of road markings on routes across the country.
    
The RSMA and Transport Scotland are now working to see where improvements can be made. Transport Scotland will map the report’s findings onto its own network data and will concentrate its efforts on improving the quality of markings where they are significantly below standard.
 
“We are greatly encouraged by Transport Scotland’s pragmatic approach in taking on board data from this independent survey of roads under its control,” said George Lee.  “It indicates an encouraging willingness to engage with others in striving for the safest possible roads for Scotland.”
     
Graham Edmond, Transport Scotland’s head of network maintenance, said: “Road markings are vital to the safety of road users and the RSMA report is an excellent addition to our toolkit. We welcome the opportunity to work with the industry to drive up standards and jointly to develop innovated ways to increasing the quality and durability of road markings to enhance safety and value for money.”

WALES
Markings on the roads controlled by the Assembly for Wales are in such poor condition that well over half need replacing, and only one per cent of markings on Wales’s motorways are classed as excellent, according the report. The survey, which looked at 600km of the road network controlled by the Assembly for Wales, found road safety markings were falling well below UK-recognised standards.

George Lee said: “We have conducted this year’s LifeLines Wales survey to find out precisely what the state of road safety markings are throughout the country. The report will not make comfortable reading for those responsible for maintaining the lines on these roads.
    
“Over 60 per cent of road markings on Wales’s motorway network are of such poor standard that they either need replacing immediately or need to be scheduled for replacement. In fairness, other types of road do score better, but none comes up the recognised safety standard, and that should not be acceptable.”
    
“As with other parts of the UK, we hope that those responsible for maintaining these roads in Wales, the Assembly, will take serious note of this report and work to improve the quality of road safety markings on the roads. In doing so, they will considerably enhance the safety of roads in Wales.”
    
The section of road surveyed which scored the lowest rating with 93 per cent of markings in need of replacing or in need of being scheduled for replacement was a section of the A449 Newport to Raglan. The section of road surveyed which scored the highest rating with just 16 per cent of markings in need of replacing or in need of being scheduled for replacement was a section of the A40 from Raglan to Fishguard.

FURTHER INFORMATION
To see the report, visit: www.comparethemarkings.com

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