End of the road for white lines on British highways?

The white lines used to divide road lanes are being removed from busy roads across the country, in an attempt to make motorists slow down.

Highway chiefs have said that blank roads bring about a sense of uncertainty, which causes motorists to drive more cautiously, especially when faced with oncoming traffic.

The central white line has been a feature of British roads for nearly 100 years, but research has shown to reduce the average speed of a vehicle by 13 per cent.

An empty road featuring traditional white road markings

Recent resurfacing in London saw the central markings on three A roads erased, with Transport for London have said may be expanded to other roads. The system is currently being used on parts of the A22 and A23 in south London, and the A100 in central London.

Initial plans for a pilot scheme in north Norfolk have been drawn up, and trials have taken place in parts of Derby and Wiltshire.

There are a number of supporters of the initiative, including road safety charity RoadPeace who have said that “self-enforcing schemes” are the way to reduce speeding after road policing budgets are cut.

However, there are some motoring groups who believe that removing the white lines could be “fatally flawed”.

Head of roads policy at the AA, Paul Watters, had his say on the situation and believes that markings should be increased if anything, recently saying in an interview with The Times that, “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.”

There is also the issue of lane-assist technology in cars, which require the white line to trigger their sensors. Similar technology to this is being used in the advancements of driverless technology, so it will be interesting to see how things develop.

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