The national Road Safety Markings Association has recently released a report claiming that Scotland’s road marking are at a crisis point for public safety.
The report’s analysis is that the Scotland has no systems to cover the repair and maintenance of road markings and, indeed, we noted that Transport Scotland’s recently awarded roads maintenance contracts for north west and south west Scotland appeared to include no obligations for road markings.
So, aware of the number of heart-in-mouth moments night-driving on Argyll’s narrow and poorly marked roads, we did a camera dash on a section of the A83 trunk into and through Argyll – the section from the head of Loch Fyne at Cairndow, south towards Strone Point, opposite Inveraray.
This is a narrow and twisting road, with regular sections of poor or no marginal road markings,usually above a drop to the shore.
The first photograph – top – is of the wider section of road directly after the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at the head of the loch.
If you’ve had an evening meal there, with a legal single glass of wine, then drive out and turn right to go southwards, this first section of road, with an unmarked margin , a narrow verge dropping to the shore and a corner up ahead for blazing headlights to come swinging round, is not a comfortable experience.
A little further south and into the narrow road, a newly surfaced section has been given centreline but no marginal marking – on the entrance to a chicane where being blinded by often undimmed headlights at night is common and scary.
Trucks and heavy haulage vehicles tend to move at night in these parts. Needing more than the width of their lane on corners, with powerful lights higher off the road than cars and often with lit rigs, meeting these on tricky sections with no markings on the road margins can be pretty heartstopping.
You can see only the limited space left to you as the high sided HGV takes what it needs on the corner – and you have no idea where the margin of safety is for you in a move left. You can often see the deep carving of tyres in the narrow width of these soft margins, telling a tale of fright and lucky escape.
Further on again, near the entrance to Dunderave Castle, is a nasty little section with rather crumbling unmarked margins and patch-ups, where HGVs have to take more than their allocated lane space, their lights bear down on car drivers – and the shore awaits, one swerve too far away.
Road markings are not high tech or sophisticated – but they are indeed absent far too often and that absence makes nervous drivers themselves unsafe and a hazard to others in many ways.
How many of us have driven at night behind a car that brakes heavily at the very approach of a vehicle coming the other way?
They do it because they cannot see the margins – because there are no markings – and their only safe option is to stop – or all but.
Do they know how often they nearly get rear-ended?
They may be a hazard but they’re not daft and they’re not wrong to do as they do.
We do need good and well maintained road markings.