Safety concerns over possible plans to phase out white lines from highways05 February 2016
Highway chiefs say blank roads make motorists drive more cautiously while some road safety campaigners express safety concerns
White lines are being removed from busy roads in some parts of the country on the basis that doing so makes motorists drive more slowly, but experts have argued they play a vital role in road safety.
Supporters of removing white lines argue that doing so means drivers become more cautious and aware of their surroundings, slowing down as a result.
Transport for London (TfL) began a trial in 2014 where central white markings were removed from three A roads in central London and the result was a reduction of vehicle speeds by 13%.
Plans to remove central road markings have been drafted by Norfolk County Council, and after trials in 2002 areas of Wiltshire saw changes on more than 20 roads across the county.
However, the plans have received mixed reactions from road safety campaigners. Some have stated that road markings are vital for keeping road users safe, but others believe that self-enforcing schemes that slow motorists down are more important than ever as police budgets are cut.
New statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 1,780 people died in road accidents from September 2014 to September 2015, the highest number since 2012 and 189,000 people were injured in road traffic accidents during the same period.
David Robinson, a road traffic accident specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The removal of white lines from our roads needs to be taken forward with extreme caution. While there are arguably some benefits as average speeds appear to be lower and road users are more mindful of their surroundings, white lines, especially on busy highways and during poor weather conditions, can be vitally important.
“With police forces under more pressure than ever as a result of the Tory government’s budget cuts, anything that could potentially improve road safety should be explored, but only implemented countrywide after robust pilot schemes.
“With the number of road deaths increasing, the government must prioritise road safety, and at the top of that list must be improving outdated road infrastructure and providing police forces with proper funding to catch drivers who break the rules of the road.”
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