Visible Road Markings: an essential road element for older drivers and the intelligent vehicle

On 9 March, the RAINVISION project held its final meeting in Brussels, Belgium.  Co-financed by the European Commission, the RAINVISION project, over the last three years has researched the impact of road markings on driver behaviour under different night-time weather conditions (dry, wet and wet and rainy) and has assessed how different age groups and gender groups adapt their driving based on the above mentioned conditions.

The first part of the event was dedicated to presenting the results of the project and in particular, the outcomes of three different trials conducted over the last three years.

The first simulation trial – a driving simulator test in France – investigated the influence of road markings on the drivers’ errors (involuntary run-off-the-road and lane departures) under wet and rainy nighttime conditions. For a simulated rural road combining straight sections and curves, 40% less driving errors were observed with wet-night visible road markings compared to standard markings. The biggest gap was observed for elderly drivers.

The results of the second trial, a track test (field experiment in Austria) reinforced these findings and furthermore showed, that under adverse driving conditions, the driving task could be solved better when high-performance marking material was applied. Especially older drivers seemed to benefit from wet-night visible markings, as clearness and perceptibility of the driving trajectory increased when such materials were used.

The on-road trials were carried out in the United Kingdom in cooperation with the municipality of Durham.  Working together with project partners and traffic police, 10 high accident sites were identified and high-performance marking materials were applied on these selected locations. The results of the analysis showed that – on average – those high-performance markings did not lead to an increase of speed.  At the same time, accidents had increased over the same period, although an analysis of police records could not link any of the accidents to the presence of better markings.

The afternoon session was devoted to examining how road markings can help maximise the safety benefits of Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) in the intelligent vehicle.  Systems such as Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, that prevent drivers from head-on collisions and run-off accidents, will become more commonplace in the years to come and in this sense, it is important that markings can remain visible to tap into the significant safety gains that can arise from these new technologies.

Given that reductions in road fatalities become disproportionately harder as the road safety figures improve, all participants agreed that the introduction of ADAS technologies, in cooperation with core infrastructure elements such as road markings, could really make the difference in the years to come.  In this sense, there was a consensus on the need for further research in the field (i.e. field operational tests) to better understand how the interaction of infrastructure and ADAS can work optimally to save lives and prevent injuries.

Some initial research work conducted under the auspices of EuroRAP under the ‘Road that Cars can Read’ initiative found that road markings should have a minimum retroreflectivity of 150 mcd/m2/lux under dry weather conditions (R3) and 35 mcd/m2/lux under wet and rainy conditions, if they are to remain visible for the driver and the intelligent vehicle at all times.   In the opinion of ERF, all A-roads within the EU should comply with this specification by March 2018.

1. Draft Agenda

2. List of participants

3. Photos of the event

4. Presentations