George Daville, Regional Director, EUROMARK explains the important role of markings in the drive to improve road safety
Road safety has been in the news again recently. For once, the headlines were good – the number of people killed on our roads reached a record low in 2008. Of course, as the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis remarked, every road fatality is a tragedy and still every day another seven people die needlessly. For he, and everyone in our industry, knows that more could be done to reduce that toll further.
As the Government consults on its future road safety strategy, we need to state our case more clearly, strongly and ¬– hopefully – consistently than ever. We can all support the need for education and enforcement, including lower speed limits where local authorities deem them a fit response to persistent accident problems.
But to neglect investment in engineering measures would literally leave road users in the unnecessary peril that exists on many of our roads. Our industry, and its roadmarking sector, can and must do more to reduce these risks. This is not special pleading, as a variety of reviews and research, much of it recent, has shown.
Many UK roads have very poor or non-existent road markings, as the European Road Assessment Programme (Euro-RAP) reported only last week (Surveyor 25 June)[?]. It highlighted the poor/neutral safety rating of almost 60% of our A-roads and the high risk represented by the busiest secondary routes. Better lining was among the measures Euro-RAP called for.
This echoes the findings of The Campaign for Safe Road Design (July 2008) and expert evidence to the Commons Transport Committee, which recognised the need for a systems approach to the network based on road safety auditing (December 2008).
As an industry we have an array of proven and innovative solutions to enhance the driveability of our roads. To cite a few examples:
Standardising on a wider centre line (150mm instead of 100mm) and marking edge lines to clearly delineate the carriageway – particularly important on single-carriageway roads.
Utilising high performance road stud systems such as fitting LED road studs, which can be solar-powered, at accident black spots and on rural roads with sharp bends.
Using high retro-reflectivity lining materials (e.g., 150mcd and 200mcd retro reflectivity values), which will perform much better in wet conditions and be very bright in normal dark driving conditions especially on unlit roads.
Lining and hatching, allied with appropriate surface treatments, can provide positive separation areas that are required to give motorists better guidance in the dark and poor weather conditions. That need is only intensified by the trend towards switching off street lights as part of the Government’s drive to reduce carbon emissions and achieve environmental and financial savings.
The roadmarking sector industry, our trade body – the Road Safety Markings Association – and EUROMARK recognise these challenges.
As a company, we adopted the EUROMARK brand in January 2009 to reflect the re-engineering of Ringway’s former roadmarking contracting and materials manufacturing operations. Now organised regionally under a strengthened management team, we are investing heavily in product development, our people and our fleet.
EUROMARK is developing new high-reflectivity markings and we have launched more environmentally friendly roadmarking materials for yellow lines. This ‘organic yellow’ product uses organic pigments in place of traditional pigments based on hydrocarbons.
The EUROMARK fleet has been upgraded to Euro 4-compliant vehicles, and the fleet now has an average age profile of less than four years. Our £1M-plus investment in 2009 includes a new, state of the art, Borum roadmarking machine with a new 26T feeder truck to supply the thermoplastic material. In addition we have also invested in a new 18T stud installation truck and five new Mercedes Atego 16T Screed trucks which are due for July delivery.
All our crews are fully qualified to the relevant NVQ level under the RSMA accredited training and assessment programme.
Our people have a long track record of roadmarking innovation – from Wetnite high-visibility lines and the high-speed Ecodyn mobile survey system, to our award-winning ‘zero-waste’ polyethylene bag for roadmarking materials, which can be melted down with its contents, actually improving the thermoplastics’ performance.
The EUROMARK thermoplastic manufacturing plant in Normanton, West Yorkshire, which supplies the European and domestic markets, enjoys access to R&D capabilities both within Ringway and our global parent company, Eurovia.
These developments give us confidence that we can play our part as the roadmarking sector and highways industry as a whole rises to the challenge of sustaining the drive to reduce death and injury on our roads.