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Fewer white lines could improve road safety


CENTRAL WHITE lines could be removed from urban roads to signal a 20mph speed limit under a newly tabled amendment to the Road Safety Bill, it emerged this week.

Labour peer Lord Berkeley has tabled an amendment to the bill, under which the absence of a central white line would signal a change from a 30mph limit on urban roads to 20mph.

Road safety campaigners claim that removing centre lines makes drivers behave more responsibly.

Currently, if a local authority wants to introduce 20mph zones repeater signs are needed. These are often perceived as costly and unpopular, said Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy manager of national cycling organisation CTC.

'It would be very useful if there was a wider range of default speed limits that don't need repeater signs, ' he said.

Under another amendment tabled by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Bradshaw, central white lines removed from rural single carriageways would signal a speed limit of 40mph.

Lines removed from busy inter urban roads would signal a limit of 50mph.

AA spokesman Bert Morris urged caution. 'These things are fine in theory but they are untested as far as their impact on safety goes. We would not support anything not based on sound research.' But traffic consultant Ben Hamilton Baillie said there was plenty of evidence from schemes in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden to show that the technique worked.

'I've been very surprised that the Department for Transport and their research arms haven't taken it more seriously. We know that central white lines have the effect of increasing traffic speeds.' The bill has had a second reading and is expected to reach report stage in October.

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