Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by The Association of Road Traffic Safety and Management and the Road Safety Markings Association (RM 11)



  From 1 April 2000 the Government placed a new duty of Best Value on local authorities establishing challenging new arrangements under which they will fund, procure and deliver all of their services.

  It will require local authorities:

    —  to secure continuous improvement in the exercise of all functions undertaken by the authority, whether statutory or not, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness; and

    —  to ensure that services are responsive to the needs of citizens not the convenience of service providers.


  The principles of Best Value are especially relevant to Roads and Transport. The Government White Paper, "A New Deal for Transport—Better for Everyone" is quite specific about this:

    —  "we will change the focus of road investment to reflect the needs of all road users giving top priority to maintaining and managing our existing roads and getting them to work better";

    —  "we will put greater emphasis on listening to transport users—there will be a New Deal for the public transport passenger and a New Deal for the motorist"; and

    —  "we want local people and business to have a real say and real influence over transport. We well expect local authorities when preparing their local transport plans to consult widely and involve their communities in setting priorities for improving transport. In approving local transport plans we will want to be sure that they fully reflect this consultation and that the views of local people have made a difference".


  There is considerable evidence that road markings and signs are economic, efficient and effective, particularly for accident reduction and prevention, but also for wider traffic management purposes.

  Road users have always placed a high value on good quality markings and signs. They will now have a stronger influence on priorities and programmes.

  The combination of Best Value and Integrated Transport Policy probably provides the systems, but this will require the application of economic, efficient and effective solutions. These qualities have long been widely recognised in relation to road markings and signs but primarily to deliver improvements in road safety.


  Within the wider agenda of Best Value and Integrated Transport, road safety rightly continues to have a high priority, and new challenging casualty reduction targets for 2010 have been set by Government.

  The previous target for 2000 of reducing all casualties by one third from the average 1981-84 level was achieved in respect of deaths (39 per cent reduction) and serious injuries (45 per cent reduction) but slight injuries and casualties to more vulnerable road users have been more resistant to reduction.

  Road markings and signs made a considerable contribution towards the achievement of the earlier casualty reduction targets, either as small schemes in their own right or in combination with more comprehensive schemes. Confirmation of this contribution and the very high levels of cost benefit achieved will be found in the records of site monitoring undertaken by all local authorities.

  The new targets are intended to build upon previous achievements and also to focus more specifically on these key areas. They require, compared to the average of 1994-98:

    —  40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents;

    —  50 per cent reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured; and

    —  10 per cent reduction in the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.


  Although the duty of Best Value applies only to roads and transport services delivered by local authorities, the Government's Highways Agency is applying similar principles and priorities. Its strategy for investment is based on:

    —  making road maintenance the first priority;

    —  making better use of the roads, through network control, traffic management measures and safety improvements;

    —  whole life costing, seeking to minimise costs over time taking into account the effects of disruption to traffic; and

    —  tackling some of the most serious and pressing problems through a carefully targeted programme of small improvements.

  In support of the above strategy the government's Highways Agency has adopted and published a new standard setting out the inspection and maintenance requirements and recommendations for road traffic signs (known as TD25/01) on motorways and trunk roads. Unfortunately the equivalent document for road markings (TC26/**) is still only in draft form and is as yet to clearly demonstrate the same commitment to the above strategic aims.

  It is felt that the adoption of TD25/01 does demonstrate the Highways Agency's commitment to road safety in respect of the importance of signage and it can only be hoped that further consultation and discussion will lead to a clearer demonstration of this commitment in the arena of road markings.

  However, the National Road Network is a modest proportion of the road network and the greater majority of accidents (70 per cent) occur on Local Authority roads. This being the case, the benefits identified from having well maintained road markings and signs will only be fully realised if Local Highway Authorities adopt the National Standards which apply to the National Trunk Road Network.

  The ARTSM and the RSMA recommend to the Transport sub-committee that in considering what further steps should be taken to bring roads in England up to the best possible standard, the Committee considers recommending that the Highways Agency's national standard for the inspection and maintenance requirements for road traffic signs (TD25/01) and the equivalent standard for road markings once agreed and published should become the basis for maintenance standards for all Local Highway Authority roads within the Best Value arrangements.

Stan Wilson

Director and Secretary, ARTSM

George A Lee

National Director RSMA

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