Clearview Intelligence Logo
Clearview Intelligence Logo

+44 (0)1908 088008 or email us

Is it the end of the road for central white lines on British roads and highways?

Another quiet news day and so another random sounding controversial road safety idea lands up hitting the headlines in the press.

John Harrison from the BBC asked 'Are roads safer with no central white lines?'

The reality is that this is not a new idea and various councils have experimented with removing central white lines on 20mph and 30mph zones for the past ten years or more.

But is it a good idea? As the article suggests, this can be used as one means of trying to calm traffic but it needs to be in the right context. It could not be applied to faster or multiple lane roads.

Just around the corner from the Clearview head office in Bicester, the local residential development has removed central white lines and instead has the white lines on either side of the road giving space over to cyclists.

I often walk or drive along this route as I go to buy my lunch.

And when I drive, I am always nervous of this route and whether it is safe. There is something clearly psychological about having the offset white lines and no central dividing line that makes the road feel narrower.

The first few times I came across a cyclist when driving along that road, I have to admit that I felt slightly anxious about what to do. Was it safe to overtake? Was it legal? What to do in the face of oncoming traffic?

Yes, it slowed me down, and I was naturally more cautious, but was my anxiety about it making me feel and act more or less safe? Would I definitely act correctly and as promptly in the face of oncoming traffic as I would on a centrally marked road? And what about the other road users? Would they react in the same way?

Several times I have looked oncoming drivers in the eye and perceived a similar feeling of uncertainty.

It reminds me of the feeling you get when driving down a winding country lane in Devon or Cornwall, and you're suddenly faced with oncoming traffic and you slow down to a crawl as you both try to edge past each other and not scrape your car on the hedgerow or fall into the ditch.And I think it's probably why Alan Bristow, Director of road space management at TfL was absolutely right in saying that the trials in London needed to be "monitored closely to understand the longer-term effects".

There are clearly places where this approach may work, but equally there are going to be places and road conditions where the answer is better definition of the road layout rather than none. The way we view road safety solutions means that it's all about mitigating risk.

In some locations, night-time driving or poor weather conditions could make these roads hazardous without this road marking. But there may be another option.

Active road studs could be that solution.

At the moment, current legislation states that road studs (active or otherwise) should only be used where white lining is present.

However, if you wanted your road layout to be clear in all weather and lighting conditions, you could deploy active road studs and then be confident that regardless of weather conditions, road users would have clear sight of the road ahead and would adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Our intelligent road studs help to deliver safety and confidence for all road users.

There are so many schemes now across the country where this active delineation has proven to be the right tool to smoothing driver behaviour and increasing road safety.

Arming drivers with more information about changing topography and direction of the road ahead rather than less surely is more conducive to improving safety than taking away these warning systems?

Even the latest in-vehicle lane departure systems cannot work without some form of delineation, so why if machines can't do it, should humans be expected to?

What do you think? Why not share your view with us or contact us directly?

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: March 2016

Links: Route Safety Enhanced Delineation News / Commentary

All Insights

Intelligence for your inbox - sign up today

Clearview Intelligence Limited® Head Office, Aurora House, Deltic Avenue, Rooksley, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK13 8LW, U.K.