Improving Road Safety

The cost of life – as little as a pot of paint

09 April 2010

For the price of a pot of paint, lives could be saved on many of the Britain's roads, according to the AA.

Annual research* tracking the safety standards on Britain's roads shows that, in seven out of ten cases, simply improving road markings was all that was needed to make some of the country's most notoriously dangerous highways safer. Improvements result in fatal and serious crashes being cut by more than a half.

"Lives are being saved by one of the cheapest measures in the road engineer's toolbox: simple white lines," according to Paul Watters, AA Head of Roads Policy.

"Each year, the UK's 10 most improved roads are tracked by the Road Safety Foundation. Major projects, such as building bypasses and turning stretches of road from single to dual carriageway, are among the more costly measures to reduce fatal and serious collisions.

"At the other end of the financial scale, road markings feature in 70 per cent of improvements annually. 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."

The long spell of bad weather over the winter has taken its toll on the roads – not just on the quality of the surface but on the visibility of road markings. Something as simple as a clear set of Give Way markings at a junction costs less than £50 but can make the difference between life and death.

Watters adds: "Drivers must to be able to 'read' the road at every turn. Without this most modest of investments, motorists will be driving blind."


*Annual Road Safety Foundation reports, initiated by the AA in 2003.

The AA is making the quality of road markings the subject of one of its AA/Populus surveys of more than 100,000 AA members.

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8 April 2010