The Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) will undertake an urgent 10-day review of the quality of road markings across Northern Ireland after the country saw a 30% increase in road deaths last year.
The RSMA claim this increase is a result of maintenance budgets being slashed by Ministers in response to a failure to agree welfare reforms.
During the period of suspended road maintenance, there has been a stark increase in deaths on Northern Ireland’s roads. In the 12 months from May 2013, 61 people lost their lives; and in the following 12 months – this figure rose to 79, an increase of 30%.
“Northern Ireland already had some of the worst-maintained road markings in the UK according to our last research,” said RSMA director George Lee.
A survey of white lines carried out by the RSMA last year highlighted the urgency of the maintenance works that was already sorely needed in Northern Ireland. It found on average 68% of white lines on Northern Ireland’s roads were due for immediate repair or repair should be scheduled. This figure hit 97% for dual carriageways. (For UK the Highways England-maintained network this figure was 47%; and for its local-authority roads 50%).
“We understand the importance of health budgets, but suspending road marking maintenance works means, in simple terms, that roads will be less safe and drivers exposed to more risk,” adds Lee.
The RSMA will undertake an urgent 10-day review of to assess the quality of road markings across Northern Ireland, shipping specialist monitoring equipment over on 22 June, and working a network of strategic as well as local roads.
“Having previously expressed concern over the condition of road markings in Northern Ireland we are seriously alarmed that the failure to maintain any significant road markings over the last nine months and the failure to reach a settlement of the Welfare funding crisis means that the safety of drivers in Northern Ireland is being fatally compromised.
“The Executive needs to put aside political point scoring and focus on its responsibility for the lives and livelihoods of voters and taxpayers,” concludes Lee.
Last week, Highways Magazine reported that Transport Minister Danny Kennedy had expressed his concern over £60 million cuts to the Department for Regional Development (DRD) in 2015/16, more than half of which will fall to TransportNI.
He stated that he will be making a strong bid for resource funding in monitoring rounds to return routine maintenance services to normal levels.