End of the road for white lines?


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A trial removal of white lines from busy roads across the country has been met with disbelief from the public.

In a bid to slow down traffic, highways chiefs are looking at removing the centrelines from some UK roads – a feature for  almost 100 years. It follows a successful  test in London which saw traffic cut back on speed by up to 13%.

In 2014, Transport for London (TfL) trialled centreline removal on three 30mph London roads due to undergo resurfacing  - the A503 Seven Sisters Road in Haringey, Wickham Road in Croydon and the A23 Brighton Road in Croydon.

In their report about the trial, TfL tried to address why motorists drive faster on roads with central lines. They wrote:  “Getting into the minds of drivers is not easy. A theory is that centre lines and hatching can provide a psycological sense of confidence to drivers that no vehicles will encroach on ‘their’ side of the road.

“There can also be a tendency for some drivers to position their vehicles close to a white line regardless of traffic conditions, believing it is their ‘right’ to be in this position.”

Drivers going slower

The data recorded from their test showed there was a “statistically significant reduction in vehicle speeds as a result of removing central markings on the carriageway”.

Explaining the results, TfL suggests that “centre line removal introduces an element of uncertainty which is reflected in lower speeds”.

However, Facebook users were not impressed by the idea. Mandy Colton wrote: “Is this for real? Let’s see how long before this causes chaos.

While Des Powell said the proposal “transcends stupidity”. He wrote: “Whoever invented cats eyes and lines have saved countless lives and as a driver for many years I place a high value on them.”

Trials have already taken place in Wiltshire and Derby and now plans have been drawn up for a scheme in Norfolk.

But it’s not just the public voicing concerns about the proposal. Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy at the AA, said authorities should be looking to increase road markings, rather than decrease them.

“Far from talking their use down we should be talking it up,” he said. “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.”

Concerns have also been raised that the disappearing lines could cause problems with safety technology found in more and more cars.

Facebook user Chris Murgatroyd said: “I have a lane departure warning system in my car. What use would that be then?”


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