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Hole in argument over porous asphalt


By dismissing porous asphalt (NCE 1 February), the Government is overlooking one crucial aspect of the surface - its renowned properties in the wet.

Many have claimed that it creates virtually the same driving environment as that of a dry road surface. Therefore, the potential accident savings are too great to dismiss this material lightly.

In 1999 some 17.6% of motorway accidents occurred when it was raining (1,604 out of a total of 9,118 accidents).

Rain, on the other hand, occurs for approximately 10% of the time, although this figure will vary from region to region.

Therefore, only 912 accidents (10%) should have occurred in conditions of rain, all things being equal. Yet there were almost 700 additional 'rain related' accidents.

If the Government chose to use porous asphalt surfacing as the low noise material for the entire resurfacing programme, there is the potential saving of some 400 accidents per year in the wet - one in 20 motorway accidents.

It now looks likely that the Government is to look elsewhere for its surfacing material, a move that will have serious repercussions for road safety and one which demands a serious rethink on its part.

Dr Julia Edwards, University of Wales College, Newport, Caerleon Campus, PO Box 179, Newport NP18 3YG

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