Following the announcement of additional funding for roads linked to the scrapping of the second phase of HS2, Wayne Johnston, Chief Executive Officer at WJ Group, says councils must maximise its impact with high-performance, durable products.
The Prime Minister unveiled this funding during his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, part of a broader transport investment package worth £36 billion, repurposed from the cancelled HS2 phase two.
As the UK’s leading road marking and highway safety business, WJ Group is poised to play a central role in delivering projects financed by this £36 billion investment.
Wayne said: “Improvements in road safety have plateaued in the UK in recent years due to tightened budgets making it challenging to invest in high-performance products that can deliver enhanced safety benefits, while also delivering cost efficiency throughout their lifecycle.”
The UK’s progress in reducing road deaths over the decade from 2010 to 2020 has lagged behind many other countries. The UK achieved only a 20% reduction, notably below the EU’s 37% average. Moreover, recent data from the Department for Transport (DfT) showed an 8.7% increase in road deaths in 2022 compared to the previous year, largely erasing the gains made during the previous decade. This trend brought the figures more in line with those from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wayne added: “Highway authorities have had to make difficult short-term decisions under multiple competing pressures. However, these choices, while legitimate and understandable, have long-term consequences, as materials and products need more frequent replacement. This results in additional long-term spending, encompassing product replacement, traffic management, administrative costs, public disruption, and other expenses associated with road maintenance.
“The new funding for specific schemes presents an opportunity to implement durable, high-performance products that will offer long-term cost benefits, easing budget constraints while enhancing safety.”
WJ’s Weatherline road marking range includes several award-winning, high-performance permanent road marking solutions. This range includes Weatherline, Weatherline Plus, and Weatherline Ultra, all known for their exceptional visibility. These products have an expected service life of a minimum of five years, ensuring long-lasting safety improvements.
Another key WJ innovation is solar studs, a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for road safety. Solar road studs require only a few hours of daylight to charge and provide up to 900 metres of forward vision significantly improving vehicle-user visibility, even in adverse weather conditions. With an expected life of seven years, they can also deliver a significant return on investment.
High friction surfacing is another product with the potential to deliver significant safety benefits over the years, enhancing skid resistance at critical locations, reducing braking distances, and preventing accidents, it is a cost-effective solution to improve road safety.
This solution also has a proven track record, with one study showing a 57% reduction in wet weather accidents, a 5% reduction in the overall number of accidents, and a £24 million annual value in prevention across the UK, resulting in a remarkable 1:8 Return on Investment in prevention value.
Wayne said: “High-performance, durable products must have a central role in harnessing the potential of the new roads funding. The funds offer a significant opportunity to address the stagnation and regression in the UK’s road safety record. “By strategically allocating this funding and adopting durable solutions, we will all benefit from safer and more efficient road networks.”