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With a quarter of all drivers over the age of 65 by 2020, the European Union Road Federation (ERF) have led the calls for better road markings to reduce accident rates.

In a paper entitled ‘Marking the way forward towards a safer future’, published on 13th December, ERF believe that as the population becomes older, their reaction times and visual abilities will also decline and as a result they will need clear and visible guidance on the road.

With the value of a human life set at‚¬1.84m, road fatalities cost a staggering ‚¬51 billion across Europe in 2012 alone, the report urges member governments from across the continent to make good on the pledge to invest in road infrastructure.

With research proving that targeted investment in road infrastructure, such as improved markings at high risk sites, can generate crash cost savings up to 60 times the cost of construction, low cost measures such as road markings are invaluable in not only saving lives but also money.

Markings provide drivers with much needed guidance on the road, allow for increased reaction time and significantly help avert the risks of run-off accidents and head-on collisions. Nevertheless, as a result of budget cuts implemented by governments across Europe in recent years, the quality of road markings across the continent has deteriorated significantly and in some cases, they have even disappeared altogether.

“The systematic under-maintenance of roads and road markings in particular represents first and foremost a hazard to the road user,” George Lee, Chairman of the ERF Working Group on Road Markings explained.

“There is plenty of empirical evidence and research findings that proves that road markings greatly increase driver comfort and can produce spectacular rates of return for road authorities, which are outlined in the report.”

“We believe that this is most easily defined by the simple 150×150 rule, in other words road markings would have a minimum performance of 150 mcd/lux/mwith a minimum width of 150 mm for all roads. For wet and rainy conditions the minimum performance level should be 35mcd/lux/m2.

“We know that this is feasible from a technological point of view and believe that any additional costs will be more than compensated by increased safety levels and reduction of accidents. This is why after all, our proposal has been endorsed by a wider range of stakeholders. Thus, what we are calling for in practice is for member states to honour their pledge made at the Leipzig summit  and allocate to road administrators sufficient funds to keeps roads safe.”

In addition, as outlined by EuroRAP and EuroNCAP in their consultation paper launched in November 2013, the absence of visible road markings also essentially negates the large potential safety benefits that can arise  from the introduction of Lane Departure Warning Systems in new vehicles.

The solution, according to ERF, is to establish intervention and maintenance standards that can ensure markings remain visible at all times, both to the driver and the intelligent vehicle irrespective of light conditions (day vs night), weather conditions (dry vs wet) and age (young vs old).