White lines could be removed from north Norfolk roads to IMPROVE safety
16:08 03 February 2016
Archant Norfolk 2015
Motoring experts have warned about the danger of removing white lines from highways because of the “vital role” they place in safety.
A number of local authorities are choosing to keep the centre of some roads clear after resurfacing work in a bid to encourage drivers to slow down.
And highways chiefs in Norfolk are in discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) over funding a £300,000 project to reduce the speed limit across a large stretch of road, which could involve white line removal.
Norfolk County Council wants to reduce the speed limit on highways north of the A148 between King’s Lynn and Cromer to 40mph, including areas near the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
It has already removed lines on a number of roads, including Cliff Parade in Hunstanton.
Tracy Jessop, the council’s assistant director for highways and transport, said officials found that taking away lines has had a positive impact because drivers become “more aware of the environment around them”.
She said: “By removing their lane, drivers no longer have a sense that ‘this space belongs to me’.
“They are more aware they have to share it and be more mindful of other road users. We do know that the average traffic speeds are reduced.”
She added that the council had removed white lines for the last 15 years.
“It can work well on certain quieter roads which already enjoy lower traffic speeds.
“Fewer road markings can improve street safety for everyone by making drivers more cautious, increasing awareness and lowering speeds.
“We’re in discussions with the Department for Transport on a scheme which would see a blanket reduction in speed limits to 40mph across an area of North Norfolk and part of this proposed scheme would include the removal of the centre white line on some narrower roads.”
The area for the scheme is the A148 from Sandringham to Sheringham and the A149 from Sandringham up to Hunstanton.
The preliminary cost estimate of the pilot scheme is £300,000. If successful, potential annual accident savings of around £1m are anticipated.
TfL carried out a pilot scheme to scrub out the centre lines on three A roads in London in 2014. The results from the initiative at Wickham Road and Brighton Road, both in Croydon, and Haringey’s Seven Sisters Road, found that vehicle speeds decreased by up to 13% without the lines.
But Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, warned that “we have to get the balance right” and said elderly drivers may suffer as a consequence of line removal.
“Most deaths in the UK take place on rural single carriageways and white lining is a key tool in the road designers’ armoury and should remain as an option to treat routes with a poor record,” he said.
“Throw in the need for new connected cars to be able to read the road and the vision needs of an ageing driving population and the case for white lines is still very strong.”
Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, called for road markings to be increased rather than decreased because they place a “vital role” in safety.
He said: “Far from talking their use down we should be talking it up. They have a vital role in keeping road users safe.
“Of course there should be places where they can be dispensed with and this has largely worked, but unlike road signs, markings are already less intrusive but still help road users.”
Official guidance from the DfT states that road markings serve a “very important function” and “make a vital contribution to safety”.
Alan Bristow, director of road space management at TfL, said the results of its pilot scheme were “positive” but noted there are no plans for “any widespread removal of road markings”.