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Highways England is spearheading an international campaign to uncover the best products or systems for removing old, ‘ghost’ road markings.

The government-owned company aims to ensure that motorists have the clearest possible directions while driving, in order to keep all road users as safe as possible.

Faded road markings can cause issues by confusing drivers who are following them. If the layout of the road changes, but previous markings are still visible, this can lead to accidents. Old lines can often be more visible in bright sunshine.

The current process of removing ghost markings can also damage the road surface, resulting in further necessary repairs and a higher backlog of work to be done.

Launched in conjunction with Roadcare and Kier, the £685,000 competition hopes to find an industry-leading solution to this problem within the global sector.

Highways England’s Innovation Director Paul Doney, said: “We were delighted with the response from existing suppliers and beyond, with some competitors even developing bespoke products. We are confident we will have some sustainable solutions to the challenges faced on road markings at the moment.”

The competition was financed through the £150m ring-fenced funds that Highways England offered for innovation projects. Real-life testing on motorways will be carried out until May 2021, when the final results will be analysed and shared within the industry. 

Highways England’s Chief Engineer, Mike Wilson, said: “By developing and using new and improved products and ways of working across the industry, lanes will be more distinct in roadworks and finished schemes will have clearer markings. All this will mean safer and better journeys for drivers.

‘Less damage to the road also means fewer potholes and less need for repairs that impact upon people’s journeys.”

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