Survey Finds Visibility of Road Markings a Critical Safety Issue for U.S. Drivers

Higher Highway Safety Standards Initiative Working to Increase Visibility and Help Save Lives on Roads and Highways

PHILADELPHIA, March 17 /PRNewswire/ — Virtually all drivers (99%) feel bright and easy-to-see road markings are important to driver safety, and 94% believe that state and local municipalities should make easy-to-see road lines a priority, according to a Higher Highway Safety Standards (HHSS) survey released today(1). The survey, conducted by New Jersey-based PKS Research, polled drivers between the ages of 18 and 65 and older from across the country, and found the importance of bright and easy-to-see lines evident across all demographic and geographic segments, especially among drivers who are 50 years and older.

These concerns are not surprising in light of the 42,000 deaths due to highway crashes that occur every year in the United States (source: US DOT, NHTSA). In fact, many of the survey respondents directly tied the conditions of pavement markings to general highway safety, with three out of four drivers surveyed believing the visibility of road lines could use improvement and an overwhelming majority (86%) believing that if the lines on local roads were wider and brighter they would be more comfortable driving at night.

Widening road lines will give drivers improved visibility and safety conditions, ultimately leading to a reduction in the number of accidents. Studies in New Jersey, Florida and Montana noted crash reductions where wider lines were implemented. In an area of Morris County, N.J., where eight-inch lines were installed, crashes were reduced by 16 percent, versus eight percent elsewhere in the state. Florida implemented wider lines in 1992 as part of an “Elder Roadway User” program. Now, all lines in Florida are six inches. Implementation was based on older driver surveys conducted in Florida which showed that older drivers prefer the wider markings.

The HHSS initiative is working to help save lives and make our roads safer by widening pavement markings on roads and highways from the current four inches to six or eight inches. To achieve this, HHSS has launched a public awareness campaign in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Through the initiative, drivers are asked to do their part by contacting their local government representatives to improve the quality and safety conditions of the state’s roads and highways by widening the pavement markings. In coming months, HHSS will roll out educational programs to additional states in need of more clearly and brightly marked roadways.

“We wholeheartedly support the Higher Highway Safety Standards initiative, as we share the common goal of improving the safety conditions of America’s roads,” said Greg Cohen, executive director, Roadway Safety Foundation, and president, American Highway Users Alliance. “Widening road lines is a simple step that states can take to drastically improve driver safety. We will be doing our part by requesting wider, brighter lines and we hope the public will join in and champion this initiative as well.”

Wider, brighter lines are easier to see for all drivers and have been found to increase road safety in areas where a high degree of roadway delineation is required, such as areas with horizontal curves, rural locations, roads with narrow or no shoulders, work zones and areas with a significant population of older drivers. Furthermore, research conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute indicates that wider markings improve drivers’ ability to detect distances when driving at night and enhance peripheral view, both of which are believed to have a positive impact on vehicle control.

“Visibility of road lines is one of the most obvious and correctable problems affecting the safety of our roads and highways today,” said Joy Shamay, Potters Industries’ advocate for the Higher Highway Safety Standards initiative. “Many states have already seen the benefits of wider pavement markings, including reductions in crashes in areas where brighter, wider lines have been implemented. This survey just reaffirms the incredible importance of clearly marked roadways for all Americans. HHSS hopes that all states will take this important step in improving the safety of their roads.”

About Higher Highway Safety Standards

The Higher Highway Safety Standards initiative is working to help save lives and make our roads safer by widening the pavement markings on our roads and highways from the current 4 inches to 6 or 8 inches, helping to reduce driver strain and fatigue and enabling drivers to respond more quickly to upcoming road conditions. To learn more about the Higher Highway Safety Standards initiative, please visit our web site at: http://www.highwaysafetymatters.org/.

(1) PKS Research, on behalf of Higher Highway Safety Standards, conducted the telephone survey November 19-21, 2004, among a national sample of 481 males and 519 females 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental U.S. Of those surveyed, 87 percent are licensed drivers. Complete survey results can be obtained by calling 1-800-230-3605.

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