posted 9 months ago

White Lines Could Be Removed To Force Drivers To Slow Down

White line removal creates uncertainty which encourages responsible driving, Council claims – AA not convinced.

London trail saw speed of traffic slow at least 5.4mph

Norfolk County Council might soon remove white lines from the centre of roads to force traffic to slow down, The Guardian reports. This initiative – its champions argue - makes motorists more cautious which, in turn, cuts speed and the risk of collision.

Transport for London recently trialled the concept on several stretches of road. Its conclusion is that there was a “statistically significant” typical speed reduction of between 5.4mph and 8.6mph. The study concludes that central line removal introduces “uncertainty” which forces drivers to lift the throttle. 

road without lines

Norfolk County Council's plan could be imposed on narrow roads towards the north of the county. Its implementation, it seems, partly hangs on the outcome of talks with the Department for Transport.

White lines already removed from some roads

Tracy Jessop, Norfolk’s Assistant Director for Highways, argued that the Council has been removing central white lines for more than a decade in locations where there is local support. She said:

“We follow national guidance when designing any scheme and know the removal of a centre white line wouldn’t be suitable on main roads with high traffic flows, but it can work well on certain quieter roads which already enjoy lower traffic speeds”. Ms Jessop added: “Fewer road markings can improve street safety for everyone by making drivers more cautious, increasing awareness and lowering speeds.”

white lines on road

David Davies, Executive Director of PACTS - a parliamentary advisory group on road safety – claimed removing white lines could have a particular benefit on newly resurfaced roads. He told The Guardian: “A brand new surface can encourage drivers to go faster, but a lack of markings could counter that (thus) reducing speed, say, from 35 to 28mph. That could make a significant difference”, he said. 

Motoring organisations unconvinced

But Brake – a road safety organisation – has concerns. Director for Road Safety, Gary Rae, argued: “While crashes at lower speeds can mean fewer deaths and serious injuries, this data only seems to look at a possible reduction in average speed and not the number and nature of any collisions”.

Increase white line road markings, AA says

Paul Watters, AA Head of Roads and Transport Policy, argued that the authorities should increase road markings, rather than decrease.

The motoring expert concluded: “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.”