Monday, 31 March 2014

Councils receive share of roads repair funding . . .


Councils receive share of roads repair funding

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Extra money for repairs to local roads damaged by severe weather.

Councils across England will today (20 March 2014) learn how much they will receive from the £183.5 million the government has made available to help repair local roads damaged by severe weather.

This is an emergency payment from the government to help with road repairs following the wettest winter on record, and will pay for the repair of 3.3 million potholes.

On top of the money being shared out to councils today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 19 March Budget that another £200 million will be provided for pothole repairs in financial year 2014 to 2015.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

Damage to roads causes misery for drivers and local communities and the severe weather over the last few months has made the problem worse.

This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and residents across England who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys.

The extra money is being distributed now to ensure that repairs can be started as soon as possible, so that the majority of the damage can be fixed ahead of the summer holidays.

116 local highway authorities in England will receive a share of the funding, along with a one-off payment to Transport for London to distribute to London Boroughs.

Regional breakdown of the extra funding to repair local roads damaged by severe weather

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All local highway authorities will be required to publish information on their websites showing how and where the money will be spent.

Further guidance will be made available in the coming weeks on how councils can bid for the new £200 million funding for financial year 2014 to 2015 announced in the Budget.

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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Volvo's connected cars could make winter driving safer for everyone . . .


Volvo's connected cars could make winter driving safer for everyone

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With its latest research project, Volvo is hoping to make driving in inclement weather a bit less dicey. The Swedish automaker is testing a safety system that uses mobile data networks to relay icy road conditions from vehicle to vehicle. Once you hit a slick spot, the location data uploads to Volvo's database and then an instant notification is sent to other cars nearing that area. As the outfit tells it, the in-car app will adjust the warning's intensity based on your speed as well as the road conditions. Meaning that, if you're crawling up the interstate at 5MPH through a whiteout, your dashboard won't light up in the way that, say, someone's would if they were doing 88MPH.

What's more, the system will transmit the pavement-friction data to maintenance crews, so more (or less) salt and snowplows can be deployed in a given area, making the roads safer for everyone -- not just Volvo owners. The pilot program is limited to some 50 vehicles for now, but the firm promises that next winter the fleet'll grow "considerably."

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Road markings putting lives at risk . . .

First potholes, now all our road lines are fading away: Half of all markings need repainting because of 'shameful' neglect that is putting lives at risk

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  • Just one in six road markings on motorways in England has been deemed 'excellent'
  • Road Safety Markings Association calls the situation 'shameful'
  • 43% of Scottish road markings need to be repainted
  • Repainting (or painting for the first time) markings on major A roads could cut road deaths by up to a third

Half the white line markings on major roads need replacing because of ‘shameful’ neglect that is putting lives at risk, a new report concludes today.

The poll found that 52 per cent of markings on motorways, 42per cent on dual carriageways and 48 per cent on single carriageways in England needed a new lick of paint immediately.

The survey of 4,300 miles of road across the UK – including 2,500 in England – exposes similar problems in Scotland and Wales.

Potentially lethal: The M3 is in dire need of a paint job with 94% of its white markings between Bagshot and Camberley needing work (file picture)

The section of road which scored the lowest rating, with 94 per cent of markings in need of replacing or being scheduled for replacement, was a stretch of the M3 between Bagshot and Camberley in Surrey.

Just one in six (16 per cent) of markings on motorways in England and one in 8 (13 per cent) of the markings on single carriageways were considered to fall into the ‘excellent’ category, according to the survey of 2,500 miles of roads by the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA).

RSMA national director George Lee said: ‘It is shameful that half of the markings on roads are so worn out that they need to be replaced.’

M3 Bagshot-Camberley 94%
A322 Bracknell-Bagshot 84%
A551 Hoylake-Liverpool 83%
A66 Middlesborough (westbound) 81%
M25 Grays-Dartford 74%
A2 Dartford-Chatham 74%
A14 Newmarket-Ipswich 66%
A14 Cambridge-M11 63%
M69 M6-Carlisle 63%
A123 Newbury Park-Grange Hill 62%

Details are revealed in a new ‘LifeLines report published on the road safety website:

The report says repainting road markings on major A roads, could cut road deaths by up to a third.

In Scotland some 43 per cent of markings need immediate replacement or need to be scheduled for replacement. The standard of markings is ‘of significant concern’ and in places ‘inadequate,’ says the report.

In Wales 63per cent of markings on motorways and 48 per cent on dual-carriageways need replacing immediately or need to be scheduled for replacement. Only 1 in 100 (1per cent) make the ‘excellent’ grade.

Mr Lee said: ‘Despite continuing to give assurances of their commitment to road safety, those responsible for the upkeep of our roads continue to neglect the most cost-effective safety device available to road engineers, the white line.

The M25 on an unusually quite day. The white lines on the stretch of road near the Dartford Tunnel need to repainted (file picture)

‘It is shameful that half of the markings on roads in England are so worn out that they need to be replaced. These markings have already been paid for because we, as taxpayers, are paying to have the roads maintained properly, including the markings, and this is just not happening. The robust evidence in our survey and in this report proves this to be the case.’

A914 Newport on Tay-Balmullo 84%

A92 Kirkaldy-Dunfermline 68%
A972 Dundee Bypass 62%
A915 St.Andrews-Kirkaldy 55%
A76 Dumfries-Kilmarnock 54%
A919 St.Michaels-Guardbridge 52%
A822 Glenloaning-Crieff 50%
A90(M) Perth-Dundee 48%
A811 Alexandria-Stirling 47%
A91 Milnathort-Yet o Muchart 45%

Mr Lee said: ‘The humble white line can save lives and it is therefore important that they are maintained to a sufficient standard that they do their job properly. If a line is so worn that it cannot be seen, it may as well not be there.’

He added: ‘If I went to the supermarket, bought a bag of apples, got them home and found that half of them were rotten, I am sure that every right-thinking person would agree that I should get my money back. 

‘With that in mind, what should our reaction be when we discover that half of road markings across all type of roads, whilst not rotten, are such a state that they are in need of immediate replacement or should be scheduled now for replacement?’

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Friday, 28 March 2014

Serial driving offender who clocked up 576 convictions . . .


Jailed: the serial driving offender who clocked up 576 convictions

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A disqualified driver whom a district judge has described as having the worst record he's ever seen has been jailed for four months.

Judge Barney McElholm made the comment at the Magistrates Court in Londonderry in the case of Mark Convey (35), from Winchester Park in the Waterside area of the city.

Convey came before the court with 576 previous convictions, 519 of them for motoring offences, including 74 for driving while disqualified. The court was told that Convey was stopped by police as he drove home from a bar in Eglinton last December 22.

At the time he was still serving a five-year disqualification period, which was imposed – along with a three-month jail sentence – in 2009 for other motoring offences.

Convey had just over twice the legal alcohol limit in his breath when he was stopped, and he also admitted to the police he didn't have insurance to drive the car.

Jailing the serial driving offender for four months and disqualifying him from driving for five years, Mr McElholm said: "I do not know if I have ever seen a record like this."

Convey was later released on appeal bail of £500. As part of his bail conditions he must not consume alcohol, nor is he allowed to travel in the front seat of any private vehicle.

Convey is the latest serial offender to come to public notice, whose record of offences runs into the hundreds.

His record is so extensive it would equate to almost three convictions a month for his entire life, from the age of 17.

Patrick James Morgan (39) has racked up 227 convictions – an average of one for every month of his adult life. In the convictions he has racked up over two decades, seven are understood to have been for assault, while more than half were motoring offences. He is currently banned from driving.

The Co Derry man's criminal career spans 22 years, with Morgan first coming to the attention of authorities aged 17.

A recent investigation by the Belfast Telegraph unearthed dozens of similar cases, including that of Malvern Dobbin, who is among the worst offenders in the country, with more than 400 convictions.

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Driving Standards Agency Daily Digest Bulletin . . .


The Official Highway Code: skids


The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for everyone.

Rule 119
Skidding is usually caused by the driver braking, accelerating or steering too harshly or driving too fast for the road conditions. If skidding occurs, remove the cause by releasing the brake pedal fully or easing off the accelerator. Turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid. For example, if the rear of the vehicle skids to the right, steer immediately to the right to recover.

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Highways Agency wants to hear from road users . . .


M4/M5 smart motorway – Highways Agency wants to hear from road users

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In January the South West witnessed the launch of the region’s first ever smart motorway scheme, marking the end of a £88 million project to ease the traffic flow and improve safety over seven miles of motorway around the Almondsbury Interchange near Bristol.

The new scheme uses a range of technologies to manage congestion, by using variable speed limits and allowing drivers to use the hard shoulder as an extra lane during busy periods.

The various technologies also provide the Highways Agency and Emergency Services with a new set of tools for managing incidents. When incidents occur, the overhead signs can be used to: provide traffic information to road users; lanes can be signed as closed via a red X with white arrows direct traffic away from and past an incident; emergency services can be given an access route and safety zone; and if necessary, the system can facilitate a full emergency closure of the carriageway.

The Highways Agency is now seeking feedback on drivers’ experiences of using the new smart motorway - a survey is available to complete on the Highways Agency website until the end of March at

Highways Agency senior project manager Paul Unwin said: “More than 140,000 vehicles use this stretch of the M4 and M5 every day and, after a two year period of residents and commuters patiently enduring road works and heavy construction, we are now keen to hear just how our road users are adjusting to the new system. I therefore urge drivers to take our online survey, so we can better understand the needs of road users for future projects.”

For further information on the M4 M5 smart motorway scheme, visit

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Pioneering London pedestrian crossing scheme to be piloted . . .


Pioneering London pedestrian crossing scheme to be piloted in Balham and Tooting Bec

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The pilot project will see traffic lights turning green only after crowds of pedestrians have cleared the road

As part of a pilot scheme running outside the busy junctions of south London’s Balham and Tooting Bec tube stations, traffic lights will be re-phased to give priority to pedestrians, the Evening Standard has reported.

Dubbed ‘Pedestrian Scoot’ after a system pioneered during the London 2012 Olympics, video cameras will detect how many people are in a virtual “box” and use this information to allow pedestrians to disperse before cars are given the green light.

If it proves successful, the system will be adapted to also help cyclists, who are particularly vulnerable during rush hour.

Last year, 14 people died cycling on London roads.

The original Scoot system (split cycle offset optimisation technique) uses road sensors to detect the volume of traffic at junctions and judge when traffic lights should turn green.

The pedestrian version of Scoot will also help motorists by cutting the green man short when pedestrians have finished crossing or have walked away.

Transport for London claims the pilot is proof that the organisation is making an effort to use technology to improve London’s road network.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I am delighted that London is the first city in the world to be trialling this cutting-edge equipment, which will benefit pedestrians across the city.

“This really is a fantastic example of how London is leading the way by using 21st century technology to help make it easier for people to get around our great city."

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A417 dual carriageway bid backed by emergency services . . .


A417 dual carriageway bid backed by emergency services

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A Cheltenham man and two women from Wiltshire were killed in separate crashes on the same day last November.  Emergency services are backing a campaign for a dual carriageway to bypass an accident blackspot on the A417 near Gloucester.  The county council wants the three-mile (5km) stretch of road near Birdlip to be added to the Highways Agency's list of road scheme priorities.  Three people were killed on the stretch of road in one day last November.  Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership said the safety benefits of a dual carriageway were "obvious".

Motorway connections

The partnership - made up from police, fire and ambulance services - said safety on the road has been debated for years.  It is the only section of single carriageway on the route connecting the M4 and the M5. County council data shows there have been 39 serious injuries and eight deaths there since 1998.  "Improvements to this stretch would bring huge economic and social benefits as it is part of a strategic route and used by about 1,500 vehicles every hour," said Garry Handley, Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership manager.  In January the county council's campaign to secure funding for the bypass gathered more than 1,000 signatures in one week.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Driving Standards Agency Daily Digest Bulletin . . .


The Official Highway Code: roundabouts


The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for everyone.

Rule 185

When reaching the roundabout you should  give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights check whether road markings allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way. If so, proceed, but still look to the right before joining watch out for all other road users already on the roundabout; be aware they may not be signalling correctly or at all look forward before moving off to make sure traffic in front has moved off. 

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Monday, 10 March 2014

IMAX and Elephant & Castle roundabouts to be transformed in £4bn roads overhaul . . .


IMAX and Elephant & Castle roundabouts to be transformed in £4bn roads overhaul

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Waterloo’s IMAX roundabout is to be transformed, offering better public space, transport connections and cycling facilities. Image: TfLMayor Boris Johnson has announced plans to transform the area around the BFI’s IMAX at Waterloo into a new public plaza offering better transport interchange facilities and improved facilities for cyclists.

The site is one of dozens to be improved under a £4 billion programme to regenerate public spaces and transform roads and streets.

The Mayor and Transport for London revealed 33 of London’s “biggest and nastiest” junctions and gyrators would be replaced with two-way roads, segregated cycle tracks and new traffic-free public spaces.

As well as the IMAX roundabout at Waterloo, the northern roundabout at Elephant and Castle will be redeveloped to create improved facilities, 5,000 new homes and 4,000 jobs.

Mayor Johnson, said: “Smarter design of our roads and public spaces, exemplified by our radical plans for Elephant & Castle, will play a key role in ensuring that London remains the best big city to live, work and invest.

“We’ve been hard at work putting the bold and imaginative blueprint of the Road’s Task Force into practice and we’re now seeing the fruits of that labour at key locations across the capital.”

The schemes will be delivered by TfL in partnership with London’s boroughs, developers and businesses.

Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “These schemes, developed in partnership with boroughs, developers, businesses, and Transport for London through the Mayor’s Roads Task Force, should offer real benefits for local communities and road users.

“They will better address the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and have a positive impact on the quality of life for residents. We look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor’s Roads Task Force to ensure these major projects are a success for Londoners.”

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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Drivers urged to overtake safely when using A9 . . .


Drivers urged to overtake safely when using A9

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The A9 is Scotland's longest road

A new safety campaign aims to encourage motorists to carefully consider their overtaking manoeuvres on the A9.

The move is part of Scottish government efforts, which include plans for average speed cameras, to reduce accidents on Scotland's longest road.

More than 40% of fatal road accidents on single carriageway sections of the A9 involved overtaking.

Campaign group A9 Average Speed Cameras Are Not the Answer has been calling for action to tackle bad overtaking.

The A9 Safety Group, which has members from roads companies, transport bodies, councils and Police Scotland, has given its backing to the new government safety message.

The issues faced on the A9 are complex”Keith Brown Transport Minister An average of 142,000 vehicles use the A9 every day, according to the A9 Safety Group.

The 138-mile (222km) road runs from central Scotland to the far north.

The road from Inverness to Perth is due to be fully dual carriageway by 2025. The cost of the work is expected to run to £3bn.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "The issues faced on the A9 are complex and we are adopting a wide range of measures to address these ahead of dualling.

"We are focusing on the three strands of engineering, education and enforcement, and this campaign is the first in a series which will address driver behaviour and help people make better and more informed decisions when they are behind the wheel."

'Dangerous manoeuvres'

He added: "Road users tell us that they are concerned about the number of dangerous overtaking manoeuvres that they see on the route.

"The aim of this campaign is to give drivers the knowledge to overtake safely, without putting their lives or those of fellow road users at risk."

Later on Friday, the first in a series of public exhibitions will be held in Inverness to explain plans to improve safety on the A9.

The A9 Safety Group's other events will be held in Perth, Pitlochry and Aviemore.

Proposed improvements include seven average speed camera system zones, new safety barriers and better lighting on stretches of the road.

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

CYCLIST on M25 after phone app directed him onto busy motorway . . .


CYCLIST on M25 after phone app directed him onto busy motorway

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Dozens of commuters were left late for work after being stuck on a busy stretch of the M25 while police tracked him down.

This is moment a man cycled down the M25 during morning rush hour, causing chaos on his way home after a PHONE APP directed him onto the busy motorway.

Concerned drivers alerted police to the foolish commuter, who was dressed in black, when they spotted him close to the junction with the M3.

Delays caused many to be late for work, on a busy stretch already plagued by roadworks, as the cyclist travelled for miles before being intercepted.

Furious Hannah Leonard posted on Twitter: "My usual 40 minute commute to work took an hour and a half due to a cyclist on the M25!"

Surrey Roads Police rushed to the scene between junctions 12 and 13 and kindly updated Twitter from the side of the motorway.

An officer tweeted: "Currently awaiting a cyclist seen on the M25 between 12 & 13.

"CCTV watching him on the hard shoulder. Should be with me very soon."

The cyclist was given a telling off and warned about the dangers of cycling on a busy motorway when cars are speeding by at around 70mph.

Surrey Roads Police posted a series of tweets about the incident.

One said: "A male was looking for a shorter route to cycle home from work.

"Phone app sent him on motorway so thought it OK."

And another read: "Nice chap but unaware of the rules of the road, believed it OK to ride/walk on hard shoulder - struggled to see why not.

"Genuine mistake. I'm sure but could have stopped at bottom of slip road! Most children know not to stray onto a motorway."

The cyclist was then "safely removed" and slapped with a £50 fine.

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

London Will Scrap ’60s Relic Road Junctions to Save Cyclists . . .


London Will Scrap ’60s Relic Road Junctions to Save Cyclists

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Almost three dozen of London’s most perilous road junctions will be “ripped out” or altered to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians after a rash of deaths, Mayor Boris Johnson said.

Thirty-three of the capital city’s busiest intersections, including the Elephant & Castle roundabout and “gyratories” at Archway and Swiss Cottage, will be removed in a 300 million-pound ($500 million) program, the mayor and Transport for London said today in a statement. More than 150 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed or injured at the locations in the past three years, according to the statement.

“These road junctions are relics of the Sixties which blight and menace whole neighborhoods,” Johnson said in the statement. “Like so much from that era, they’re also atrociously designed and wasteful of space.”

The mayor has vowed to revive cycling in London to reduce traffic, noise and pollution. After introducing the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in 2010, he unveiled plans last year to more than double the city’s budget for cycling improvements to almost 400 million pounds over three years.

“We can turn these junctions into more civilized places for cyclists and pedestrians, while at the same time maintaining their traffic function,” Johnson said.

Funding will come from public programs to improve road conditions and safety, and from the general Transport for London Major Schemes budget. Third parties and developers have committed about 50 million pounds.

The Elephant & Castle roundabout in south London has the city’s highest casualty rate for cyclists and will be removed, as will complicated gyratories at Archway, Aldgate, Swiss Cottage and Wandsworth. Improvements will be made at other intersections, including in Hammersmith and Vauxhall, “pending more radical transformations.”

An initial budget of 19 million pounds was designed to cover 100 junctions, often for only “cosmetic changes.” The new program invests more money on fewer intersections to achieve a “real” transformation, according to today’s statement.

London Assembly members lambasted the mayor in November over his policies to encourage cycling after six bike-riders died on the U.K. capital’s streets in less than two weeks, bringing the death toll to 14 from the beginning of last year, the same as in the whole of 2012.

The city’s Metropolitan Police force put hundreds of extra officers on the streets to improve road safety, checking for substandard and badly driven trucks as well as stopping cyclists who are behaving dangerously.

Most serious bike and pedestrian accidents happen at, or near, a road junction, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Detailed designs of the program will be published in March, and work will begin in the second half of the year. Some road junctions that didn’t make the list will be enhanced as part of improvements to cycling routes, the city said.

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