First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com
Nearly a 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 miles of the network.
And, Britain’s most dangerous roads have the most
worn-out centre-line markings of all, leaving drivers clueless when
trying to read the road, says the report from the Road Safety Marking Association (RSMA).
Two-thirds of all UK road deaths and serious
injuries are on rural A-roads. Yet, of more than 60 single-carriageway
A-roads surveyed, totalling more than 1,600km, on average 14% of road
markings are completely worn out; and a further 15% fall into the
“amber” zone and immediately should be scheduled for replacement. Just
29% of lines reach the acceptable level of visibility, claims the RSMA.
On one of the worst roads in the survey, a 8km
section of the A6135 between Ecclesfield and junction 36 of the M1
motorway at Hoyland [County of Yorksire, northern Englan],
three-quarters of the markings are either barely visible or need an
immediate schedule for replacement and just 1% make the grade. Two other
sections of road have nearly half their marks worn out: the A645 in
Yorkshire/Humberside and the A509 in the County of Northamptonshire.
Two single carriageway A-roads stand out in the
LifeLines Report: a 22.5km stretch of the A1133 in the East Midlands,
where three-quarters of the road markings are up to the standard
(although this figure was 93% two years ago), and a 16km stretch of the
A63 between Leeds and Hull [north-east England] coming a close second.
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 falls below the minimum specifiable standard and
should be scheduled for replacement while 8% have centre line markings
so worn that they are barely visible. A high proportion of markings (39%
dual carriageways and 38% motorways) make the recommended rating used
by the industry but there has been a significant drop in the quality
since 2008, when 69% cent of markings on duals reached this grade and
Top marks go to the A303 dual carriageway [between
Basingstoke, County Hampshire, and Honiton, County Devon in southern
England], which has 86% high quality markings; and the M65 in County
Lancashire [north-west England] with 91%.
At the bottom of the motorway league is the M61 in
the north-west, with more than a quarter of the motorway having barely
visible markings; and one-fifth of markings on dual A-road, the A27
[southern England], fail to make the grade.
“These motorways and strategic A-roads are managed
by the Highways Agency, which has clearly specified standards for the
quality of road markings,” says George Lee, national director of 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 our trade routes are
“Most of the single-carriageway A-roads in the
survey are managed solely by local authorities. The RSMA is concerned
that Highways Agency ratings for road markings [see below] have never
been formally adopted by local authorities, leading to inconsistent
maintenance standards on UK roads and the potential for the significant
maintenance shortfalls identified in the RSMA report. The high risk of
head-on collisions on single-carriageways means centre-line markings are
critically important to guide road-users safety on these roads.
“It is the Government’s role to provide
well-researched and informed guidance for local highways authorities
when it comes to specifying safety measures. I believe that this year’s
LifeLines Report presents evidence of sufficient public concern to merit
an inquiry by Parliament’s Transport Select Committee, and that’s
something we will seek.
“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
Road markings are measured on their
retroreflectivity. A rating of 150mcd (millicandelas) is the level
recommended by the industry, with road markings materials available that
ensure markings remain clearly visible even at night in wet conditions.
Under a 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.
The RSMA is concerned that Highways Agency ratings
for road markings have never been formally adopted by local authorities,
leading to inconsistent maintenance standards on UK roads and the
potential for the significant maintenance shortfalls identified in the