TfL claims removing white lines from roads reduces speeds

Road markings
4 Sep, 2014 12:30pm Chris Ebbs

Study by Transport for London finds that removing central road markings cuts speeds by 4mph

Removing white lines from the centre of some roads can help reduce drivers’ speed, research by Transport for London (TfL) has found.

Following the resurfacing of three separate roads in the capital, TfL decided not to repaint the central markings, and it found a significant change in average speeds.

It discovered that traffic speeds on the northbound Seven Sisters Road fell by 2.5mph to 29mph, and by 4.1mph to 28mph on the southbound side.

One theory for the change, according to the study, is that central lines give drivers confidence that no car will encroach on ‘their’ side of the road. The research claims removing it introduces uncertainty, reflected in lower speeds. 

Road markings

The study also noted that motorists slowed further when passing vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. This was backed up by research in 2005 by the Transport Research Laboratory on ‘psychological’ traffic calming measures. 

Even so, TfL won’t remove central road markings across the capital. Director of road space management, Alan Bristow, said: “We have no plans for widespread removal of markings, but our designers will now consider implementing this, alongside other innovative traffic measures, where it may be appropriate.

The Department for Transport won’t enforce the measure, either. “Decisions on traffic calming are for local authorities, taking into account local circumstances and road layout,” a spokesman said.

The study also found not repainting lines brought small financial gains for authorities, in terms of maintenance.

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