Road markings important for road safety
An Astucia SolarLite road stud installation is part of a safety system on "the most improved UK road"
Manufacturers are constantly upgrading marking materials and equipment. Now those responsible for highways are being asked to do more as Patrick Smith reports.
A recent report claimed that nearly one-third of the length of Britain's single carriageway A-roads have white lines so worn out that they do not meet recognised standards.
According to the LifeLines Report, an assessment of more than 2,400km of the road network, Britain's most dangerous roads have the most worn-out centre line markings of all, leaving drivers clueless when trying to read the road.
The report, from the Road Safety Marking Association
(RSMA), points out that some two-thirds of all UK road deaths and serious injuries are on rural A-roads.
Yet, it claims, of more than 60 single carriageway A-roads surveyed, totalling more than 1,600km, on average 14% of road markings are completely worn out. A further 15% fall into the 'amber' zone and should immediately be scheduled for replacement. Just 29% of lines reach the acceptable level of visibility, claims the RSMA.
The quality of markings on major A-roads is in line with those on motorways. Of the 750km-plus of A-roads and motorways surveyed, one in five fell below the minimum specifiable standard and should be scheduled for replacement while 8% have centre line markings so worn that they are barely visible, claims the RSMA.
"Two years ago, just 2% of our major road network had markings that rated virtually non-existent. This figure has risen at an alarming rate, and now, nearly a tenth of the centre lines on our trade routes are dangerously worn," says George Lee, national director of the RSMA.
"The high risk of head-on collisions on single carriageways means centre line markings are critically important to guide road-users safely on these roads.
"Road markings provide the best, most simple navigation aid to drivers, who must to be able to 'read' the road at every turn. Without this most modest of investments, motorists are driving blind when we can, in fact, save lives for the cost of a pot of paint." Road markings are measured on their retroreflectivity. A rating of 150mcd (millicandelas) is the level recommended by the industry [in the UK], with road markings materials available that ensure markings remain clearly visible even at night in wet conditions, says the RSMA.
Under a UK Highways Agency
standard, if the quality of markings falls below 100mcd, they should be scheduled for replacement, and if the quality rates below 80mcd, they must be replaced immediately.
Whether this picture is being repeated elsewhere remains to be seen, but despite the RSMA's worrying statistics much is being done by road marking materials and associated manufacturers to make sure products are up to scratch when it comes to markings.
For example, a road once noted for its poor safety record has been re-categorised from a medium-high risk-rated road in 2004-2006 to a low-medium risk-rated road in 2007-2009, and rated the most improved UK road by EuroRAP
(European Road Assessment Programme) in its current tenth annual report Simple Measures Save Lives.
The 11km stretch of road through County Buckinghamshire, south-east England, is the site of an Astucia
SolarLite road stud installation, "a significant safety measure within an overall safety scheme initiated by Buckinghamshire County Council." Collectively, the 15 most improved roads in the report contributed to a 62% drop in crashes over three years, falling from 494 fatalities to 190. A mere 1% of roads surveyed qualified to score a top 15 position.
The route before (left) and after Geveko's AquaRoute Tempi had been applied
EuroRAP has stated that head-on collisions, which account for 20% of lives lost on single carriageways, are prevented only by road markings. And along with another heavyweight in road and car safety, Euro NCAP, it is saying that the focus this decade should be on ensuring the quality of the signing and marking on busy open roads. Both EuroRAP and Euro NCAP are calling for a full survey of the quality of road signs and markings to measure the real-world variation in signing and marking across borders and define the working tolerances that are acceptable.
"Astucia SolarLite road studs have already proven to reduce road accidents by 70% on UK installations. The studs themselves are entirely sustainable, charging and activating by natural sunlight alone. Visibility is also ten times greater than traditional cats' eyes and the time for a driver to react to an approaching hazard is enhanced from 3.2 seconds to 30 seconds when driving at 100km/hour," says Astucia.
Concluding the report is the ethos that the UK should seek to achieve minimum safety levels on busy high-risk roads. The top 15 improved roads overall saved countless lives and an estimated £56 million ($90.6 million) annually.
Other roads were made safe for special city runs in the cities of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Viborg, Denmark, where race organisers had problems with marking up the route for the runners because the markings had to be there for a limited time. The solution was AquaRoute Tempi from Geveko.
The system is a temporary water-based road marking paint made for temporary road markings or track markings.
According to Geveko it can be used for re-routing on roads or in airports; for covering permanent markings for a limited time period or for events such as city runs, marathons and exhibitions where a short-term marking is required.
Available in white, red, blue and yellow, it can be applied with airless road marking equipment or hand tools, and the marking is worn down quickly by constant wear from traffic and weathering. The lifetime of the markings are 3-8 weeks, depending on the thickness of the line, place of application and general wear and tear: in Gothenburg, the markings stayed for around 30 days.
Meanwhile, Swarco Industries and Colorado Paint Company (subsidiaries of Swarco America) recently participated in AASHTO's [The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials] National Pavement Marking Evaluation Programme in the state of Pennsylvania.
Swarco is testing a series of new products with the aim of gaining additional state approvals and introducing new product systems to state Departments of Transportation.
Colorado Paint Company installed its new Swarcoplast Series MMA cold plastic structured wet night formulas, designed to provide exceptional durability and wet night visibility. It is ideal for concrete and asphalt application where durability and visibility is needed most, says the company.
Also applied was the new MUFA 10 plural component-modified polyacrylic system that provides rapid set times below five minutes and exceptional bead adhesion.
In the US, Swarco Industries and Colorado Paint Company have been testing new products
Applied with traditional epoxy 2:1 mix equipment, this product is said to provide good durability on concrete and asphalt roadways, and by using Swarco's Type I beads and Megalux-beads, "excellent dry reflectivity levels and enhanced wet night visibility is achieved." Swarco Industries also installed its new line of torch-applied pre-form thermoplastic.
"The 90 mil and 125 mil thick materials will provide customers the durability of traditional thermoplastic materials with an easy-to-install torch application while the custom factory-applied glass bead system is designed for consistent and exceptional reflectivity right out of the box. No additional drop-on beads are required in the field." Using the latest resin technology from Dow (www.dow.com), Colorado Paint installed its high-build paint systems with Swarco-enhanced blended bead systems. The combined system is designed to provide improved durability and enhanced reflectivity over traditional high-build paint and glass bead systems.
Ennis Prismo Traffic Solutions says that temporary road markings are an integral part of ensuring that traffic on the UK's roads continues to flow as smoothly as possible.
Now the internationally-established road safety products manufacturer has introduced what it claims is the first (and only) pre-formed, cold applied road paint, marketed under the Paintmark(tm) (patents pending) brand.
Paintmark from Ennis Prismo Traffic Solutions comprises three core components
"Paintmark is incredibly simple to use and is set to revolutionise the temporary road markings market. It is quick and easy to apply by hand thus minimising costly road closures; it can be trafficked immediately and its removal (causing no damage to the road surface) is virtually effortless. Due to the innovative manner in which the new temporary marking is manufactured, it can be produced in a wide selection of shapes, lines, colours and designs, including symbols and company logos," says Ennis Prismo Traffic Solutions.
Paintmark, which is workable even at low temperatures, comprises three core components. The trafficked surface is Ennis Prismo's High Build durable waterborne traffic paint, into which high index glass beads can be incorporated to provide appropriate levels of retro-reflectivity, if required. The system bonds to the road surface via a natural bitumen with excellent adhesive qualities. Between the paint and the adhesive is a layer of specially-developed high-strength fabric, which binds the two together.
Eventual removal is achieved by simply warming the product with a gas torch or steam hose. The need for hydroblasting, scabbling or the use of a heat lance, is completely eliminated, and no residue is left on the road surface.