Road Safety News
 

Report calls for standardised approach to road signs and markings

Wednesday 27th November 2013

A new report published by EuroRAP* and Euro NCAP* suggests that inadequate maintenance and differences in road markings and traffic signs are a “major obstacle to the effective use of technology in vehicles”.

The report, “Roads that cars can read”, says that by 2025 half of the cars on Europe’s roads will be capable of “reading” signs and markings, and suggests that vehicles, like drivers, will not function properly where road markings and signs are worn out, inconsistent or confusing.

It also says that this means putting an end to the different fonts, colours, sizes and shapes that are seen in "even the most basic, internationally standardised safety signs such as 'stop' and 'give way'". The report also says this means standardising the width of white lines and the amount of light they reflect – and ensuring the edges of major roads are marked.

The report challenges the EU, governments and stakeholders to respond to the recommendations of the working party of cross-industry experts who have proposed adopting clear, common standards for road markings and traffic signs on major rural roads which many countries have adopted. It also calls for an independent survey of Europe’s major roads to assess the scale of action needed to meet these standards.

The report has been launched to coincide with the ‘Developing Safe, Efficient and Connected Mobility’ conference in Brussels which is focusing on advanced vehicle design. The conference will look at the “connected” car which can provide drivers with access to extensive information about congestion, accidents, road conditions, road works, weather changes and upcoming hazards. It will enable vehicles to communicate with each other and provide warnings, such as unsafe lane departure or immediate risk of collision.

Launching the report, John Dawson, chair of EuroRAP, said: “There needs to be a fundamental change in the discipline we apply to road infrastructure. 

“Lane markings are now the ‘rails’ for self-steering vehicles. The safety standards of the rail and aviation industry need to be applied to major roads.” 

Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP, added: “We set demanding standards for 5-star cars. We must now move towards 5-star roads where the quality of road markings and signs are assured to work with modern vehicles.”

In a joint statement of support, the FIA, European Road Federation and ACEA (the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) have joined EuroRAP and Euro NCAP in calling for a step-up in road maintenance standards, saying: “Roads that are not regularly maintained cost many times more to repair and reconstruct. Roads that are not properly maintained, marked and signed result in avoidable death, bodily injury and damage. Roads that are unfit for purpose fail to provide the connectivity on which jobs, the economy and society depends. 

“Assuring the quality of Europe’s roads must start with the network of greatest social and economic importance. It is unacceptable that this busy network on which so much travel and risk is concentrated should not meet basic standards.” 

Footnote: Euro NCAP & EuroRAP

Euro NCAP organises crash tests on new vehicles and provides motoring consumers with an independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. Established in 1997 and backed by several European Governments, motoring, consumer and insurance organisations, Euro NCAP has become a catalyst for encouraging significant safety improvements to new car design.

The European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) aims to reduce death and serious injury through a programme of systematic testing of risk, identifying the major shortcomings that can be addressed by practical road improvement measures. It forges partnerships between those responsible for a safe road system – civil society, motoring organisations, vehicle manufacturers and road authorities.

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I must say how pleased I am at the support, by way of people agreeing with the chevron proposals which was first mooted on this site by Peter.

As a motorcyclist it is something that I have had in mind for a number of years and I also have some support for the idea from others who ride bikes.

I also manufactured some chevrons and placed them at points prior to bends on roads and took pictures to indicate their usage.

This has stirred me to put something in writing to the various authorities in an effort to make roads, and particular bends, safer for all twv - and others of course.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

I forgot to add that bends generally have a warning sign 100 yards before them. This existing sign is an opportunity to pre-warn a car or bike rider of the extremes of the bend ahead by simply and cheaply (much cheaper than all the new 20 mph signs going up) adding a small chevron sign under the bend triangle, indicating not only the way the bend goes, but also its intensity or danger ie: 1 to 4 chevrons. This could be a small plate the same size as a number plate (tho not as long in most cases) and illuminated yellow and black so visible at night.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)
+4

I agree with Peter that the more chevrons would denote the greater degree of any bend. Say only one chevron for can be taken if necessary at up to maximum speed for the road ie not very sharp. maybe 15/20 deg; 2 chevrons denotes the need to slow and maybe drop a gear (on a motorcycle that is) a bend maybe up to say 45 deg; and then the three chevrons denotes a more severe bend (over 45 deg) where a motorcyclist should definitely take it slow and brake, slow and drop down a couple of gears.

If necessary, where a bend is or becomes sharper whilst going round, then 4 chevrons means tightening bend.

All chevrons should be in the same multiples if needed to be repeated round the bend.

I have suggested this on other sites over the last few years, particularly for the benefit of motorcyclists who have to take in quite a number of different observations in order to decide just how fast a bend can be taken, understanding that when committed a biker cannot slow or brake or carry the corner as safely as a four wheeled vehicles can.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)
+5

"It will enable vehicles to communicate with each other and provide warnings, such as unsafe lane departure or immediate risk of collision." As with ISA, warnings to the driver of speeding, tailgating, 'imminent collision' etc. is a move in the right direction and should be embraced, but I am still wary of technology that would actually take control of the vehicle itself. Will there come a day when one car could actually 'control' another car to prevent a collision? Mind-boggling. On a lighter note, could there be road-rage between the vehicles themselves?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)
+1

Most of the signs we use to navigate the road safely have not been placed there by any authority. You only have to go out on a road without any signs at all to see that people manage them perfectly well. Road markings decay much quicker than the actual roads themselves and so there would be a huge additional expense involved in maintaining them to the required standard.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)
+2

If we are looking at putting the safety standards of aviation to roads, my 2CV will be like a swordfish. On a serious note, for once let's start by getting authorities to agree on chevrons at bends. On a journey to Devon I encounter 130 degree bends with 2 chevrons followed in the next county with 7 chevrons on a 80 degree curve. Can we sort it out like white lines in that the more you see the greater the danger/risk. It is not rocket science.
Peter London

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)
+11