Clearview Intelligence | Tough times calls for steady and careful management of our roads
With long nights and mornings beginning to frost over, this is the time of the year when the hard work that national road authorities and local councils have put in over the summer comes home to roost.
Across the Spring and Summer, there is plenty of work going on with operators stocking up on grit, filling potholes and carrying our safety improvements on their roads. There is also a flurry of reviews and statistics for operators to react to and build upon. These include the EuroRAP UK Road safety report, the Scottish Road Casualties Report and inputs to give to reviews such as the recent Government Transport Select committee review.
Not all of these reports and reviews have been comfortable to navigate. Highways England has had to face up to intense scrutiny over their safety record on the new smart motorway network and Transport Scotland have seen varying degrees of success in their safety improvement figures over the past year. The Welsh government have also found it difficult to move safety figures downward as they continue to look for additional funding to help their cause.
Whilst Clearview have built a business by helping road operators in improving road safety through the various solutions they can offer and they are also mindful of the future work that needs to be done to ensure safety standards are maintained once a road is passed into the maintenance cycle.
Typically, when a road is identified for safety improvements there is a lot of focus on putting in place new solutions to fix a problem. These could be around better delineation or clearer danger warnings of what may lie ahead and hopefully, these changes will result in a reduction of accidents, as is the intent.
However, it is then typical that the road is passed onto the maintenance team to monitor and ensure the road continues to operate as expected. This is all correct and good and the ongoing management of the road relies on the team doing a good job such as carrying out the winter gritting programme.
Over the course of the next few years, it would be unusual for the road to need any major work but with the increasing challenge of potholes developing more rapidly and the eight to ten-year cycle of main roads requiring resurfacing, there will come a time when a road surface may need to be renewed.
At this point, there is a real risk that the thinking behind the original safety improvements has been lost in the midst of time and as part of another team’s remit. So simply through a lack of knowledge of the people doing the much-needed work a low-cost option is put in place, with the risk of the unwitting removal of a solution that was saving lives. So the cycle of increasing accidents starts up again.
There should be easy answers to this problem – longer record keeping, shared reporting and better cross knowledge sharing. However, in a world where cost is king these answers can easily be lost over the course of the longer term.
That’s why it is important for operators to fully understand and cross-share the needs of the road and understand why certain features are already in place. It’s a difficult call to make especially when faced with budget challenges that are much more acute than ten or fifteen years ago.
Buckinghamshire County Council was faced with this challenge on the A4128 in High Wycombe and the A413 at the Adstock Bends where over ten years ago they installed SolarLite Road Studs to help reduce the number of accidents on these rural roads. When faced with the need to resurface this part of the road the council wisely reviewed the current set up and were able to recognise that a re-installation of SolarLite studs would mean continued safety standards, rather than a risk of re-introducing a dangerous situation on the road. Full details on this scheme can be found here.
This was also the case in Newport, Wales on the A467. The road required maintenance and re-surfacing which removed the existing solar studs. These were then replaced with SolarLite Road Studs in a clear and conscious decision to maintain safety standards.
So with winter now upon us, it may be important to double check that any maintenance changes made to your roads have not inadvertently increased the dangers rather than the hoped for improvements everyone wants to see.
If you have a scheme that may require additional or re-instated improvements for the safety of drivers we would be very happy to discuss with you the ideas we have on how to help.
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