RSMA hits out over plans to remove road markings

Highways Reporters

The Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) has hit back over claims that removing markings from busy roads has the effect of slowing motorists down.

This follows a report in The Times that plans for a “shared space” pilot scheme are being drawn up in Norfolk. The plans could see lines removed on narrower roads near the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

The idea follows "shared space" schemes where physical boundaries such as kerbstones and railings between the carriageway and footpaths are removed to slow down drivers.

About 100 roads have been adapted in Britain but a survey of 600 people* last year found that two thirds rated their experience as poor.

George Lee, chief executive of the RSMA, said: "We can all only hope that for the sake of innocent road users it does not turn out to be fatally flawed. There is little or no proof that removing road markings makes roads safer or that drivers confused by a lack of clear guidance are somehow safer drivers.

“How does a pedestrian make eye contact with a driver?” he asked. “With most vehicles, it is difficult to see the driver, never mind make eye contact – assuming the vehicle is travelling slowly enough. And for those who are blind or partially sighted, the idea is an insult.”

This view is echoed by Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA. He added: "Without exaggeration it is true to say that a simple pot of paint can save lives. In particular, highly visible markings at the edge and centre of the road that can be seen on a wet night are enormously cost-effective in saving lives."

Findings in successive reports from the Road Safety Foundation also show road markings to be a most cost-effective measure in improving road safety, with central hatching and turn-right pockets, edgelines and rumble strips, speed limit roundels all contributing to safety without the need for vertical signs.

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