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  • Writer's pictureTanya Fowles (Local Democracy Reporter)

Motorists expected to be vigilant for faded road markings which they can’t see

Roundabout being painted on Road

“This is an extraordinarily poor response when we have roundabouts that are invisible”

Correspondence from the Department of Infrastructure on faded road markings which essentially urged motorists to be vigilant has left councillors at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council demanding to know how it’s possible to look for something that’s invisible from neglect.

One councillor described a mini-roundabout in his constituency as a “free-for-all” as it no longer has markings whatsoever.

Previously, the Council wrote to the Department pointing out a number of areas of particular concern, to which a response revealed a programme of road marking renewal in the Fermanagh area was under way, with several being prioritised.

It was confirmed road markings requiring renewal are generally picked up by inspectors as part of their routine maintenance; however, the Department urged particular areas of concern to be reported via NI Direct.

Councillor Sheamus Greene, Sinn Féin, who raised the issue initially, remarked:

“I’m flabbergasted! I’m sure Roads Service aren’t living in a bunker – rather, they are out and about.

“Almost every white line, yellow line and roundabout in this district needs to be upgraded, and to come back with ‘if’ we see issues we should report them, is just having a laugh at us.”

Following this, councillors sought clarification on the legal position regarding insurance cover for motorists should an accident occur as a result of faded road markings.

In response, Divisional Roads Manager for the Western Division, Daniel Healy, said:

“Motorists are required to have an appropriate level of insurance cover to use their vehicles on the public road network regardless of the condition of any aspect of the network.

“The Department has a statutory duty under Article 8 of the Roads (NI) Order 1993 to maintain public roads.

“However, there is no automatic entitlement to compensation for citizens.

“Furthermore, the Article 8 statutory maintenance duty does not extend to the provision of road markings.

“That said, the Department may be liable for claims involving road markings under common law negligence, but only if negligence is proven.”

He continued: “In relation to insurance cover for motorists should an accident occur as a result of faded road markings, this would be an issue for insurance companies to decide how they wish to deal with an individual claim.

“It should be noted that the Department investigates and defends public liability claims, with every case assessed on its own facts.

“In cases where officials believe the Department can raise a legal defence, claims will be repudiated.”

Councillor Greene said: “Again, this is an extraordinarily poor response when we have roundabouts that are invisible.

“For example, in Brookeborough there’s a mini-roundabout with no visible markings whatsoever. It’s a free-for-all.

“We have right-hand turning lands off the A4 which have vanished with no sight of them at all.

“Then for Road Service to say that it’s up to the user to be careful or to look out – look out for what?

“They [markings] literally aren’t there, yet the Department will defend themselves vigorously.”

He suggested: “Maybe if there was pressure to get at least the priority ones like roundabouts and junctions painted, they could vigorously do that, and it might suit them better.”

Backing this, Ulster Unionist Councillor Diana Armstrong noted the response pointed to possible departmental liability, but only if negligence is proven, adding: “It is negligent not to have these lines painted for health and safety on the roads.”

She proposed pursuing this further with the Minister to explore a programme in rural areas of Fermanagh and Omagh where neglect is showing “because in the grand scheme of things, road markings are not overly expensive compared to what’s needed in surfacing, but in terms of lives saved”.

Seconding this, Democratic Unionist Councillor Keith Elliott said: “Faded lines are also a big issue with Learner drivers, especially in and around towns, so it’s something that really needs to be looked at.”

Councillor Allan Rainey, Ulster Unionist, told councillors he was pleased to see Roads Service currently carrying out this work in the A5 Omagh area, adding: “If there’s any way we could capture them and keep them there until they get some of this work done, that would be good.

“But they are working on the ground very effectively.”

Concluding the discussion, Chair, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, Sinn Féin, said: “That’s good to hear, but it wouldn’t do any harm if there was more of them working on the ground.”

The proposal passed unanimously.


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