Our roading network is in dire need of upgrading in many ways but one of the easiest and most effective updates we could make concerns road markings. We all know that when you see double yellow lines down the centre of the road that it isn’t safe to pass. But when some drivers see white lines, they then think it’s okay to overtake, no matter what. There’s some kind of subliminal acceptance of what the lines mean; if it’s white, it’s alright. But that’s not the case and in my opinion there needs to be a complete redesign of road markings in this country.
I was following someone the other day as we came down a hill and into a blind right-hand corner. It went from double yellow to white dotted lines just before this bend and as soon as the road marking changed, the driver in front just pulled out and passed. Rounding the bend there was oncoming traffic. How there was not a head-on collision, I just don’t know. It was another instance of luck avoiding tragedy.
This happens a lot. When drivers see white lines, they somehow think it’s okay to pass, no matter what. This is because most drivers are not focused, not looking far enough ahead and don’t release how much clear road they really need to pass safely. But then they’ve never been educated about the dangers, they are not prepared and they aren’t paying attention. It’s a recipe for disaster, which is reflected in the road toll each year.
I spoke with a contractor who was responsible for maintaining the road markings and I asked him how these markings are determined. He actually didn’t know but he asked the question of the official he dealt with. Getting back to me, he said basically that it’s a white dotted line everywhere unless it’s a blind crest. So if you have a brow and you can’t see over the top of it clearly, it will be a yellow line to indicate it’s unsafe to pass. But what about blind corners I asked? They expect that this should be common sense, he said.
Based on what I witness on the road everyday, common sense should prevail but it doesn’t. Most drivers have no understanding or awareness of risk. It’s common sense not to drink and drive, to wear your safety belt, and not to text when driving but all these things happen. And then they say it should be common sense not to pass on corners.
Idiots will still overtake on double yellow lines but you also have this other group who are not using common sense; they see the white lines as ‘it’s okay to pass’. Repainting the lines wouldn’t be a major cost, or that difficult to achieve. And yet in many cases this would help change drivers’ perceptions of when it’s safe to pass. It would be much cheaper and easier to achieve than all the median barriers that were supposed to be in place by now. We don’t want to add more signs to the roadside telling us what to do, leading to more distraction. Just change the line colours to be more effective. And this wouldn’t require a costly education program.
It would be good to have a national strategy around these line markings. Here is an opportunity to help change our outcomes that won’t cost a whole lot of money. This shouldn’t be a difficult process. Unfortunately, I suspect that if we did go down this path, you can imagine the amount of money they will spend on ‘expert consultation’. It would cost us millions. I could write a new strategy and I’ll do it for free. I challenge those in power to have a meeting with me and let’s get started on making our roads safer.