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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

New road markings being trialled for motorcyclists on Scotland's roads

New road markings are being trialled across the west Highlands to improve the behaviour of motorcyclists on bends.

The markings, called Perceptual Rider Information for Maximising Expertise and Enjoyment (PRIMEs), are designed to help riders adapt their speed and positioning when approaching left-hand bends by aiming to use a painted ‘gateway’ and information signage.

The trial on Scotland’s popular biking routes comes after figures revealed more riders died on Scotland’s roads in the past year than in the previous three.

Motorcyclists are disproportionately involved in road accidents – they make up only 1% of road users in Scotland yet account for around 17% of all road deaths.

Last year 465 riders were hurt in crashes, with 60% injured seriously and 27 losing their lives between 2022 and 2023.

The PRIMES trial has been introduced across 22 sites covering 750 square miles over three years in what is understood to be the most in-depth investigation of motorcyclist behaviour in the world.

Professor Alex Stedmon, an expert in rider behaviour and psychology, spent many weekends in the Highlands collecting data and interviewing riders, and analysed video footage of over 32,000 motorcycles using the markings.

Evidence demonstrated a significant reduction in speed, improvement in road position and braking – with no motorcycle injury collisions occurring at any of the sites where markings have been deployed.

Professor Stedmon told STV News: “We’re using nudge psychology to implement behavioural changes in a subtle way.

“The road markings give riders the opportunity to adjust position and make them safer on approach to bends by providing a natural point to ride through.

“As a keen motorcyclist myself, I know how important it is to approach demanding bends safely and PRIMEs help riders adjust their speed, position and braking.

“We’re giving riders a tool for different situations and give them the opportunity for a better sense of enjoyment and expertise.”

The Road Safety Trust provided £215,000 funding to Transport Scotland to test the scheme.

The next step will see guidance packs delivered to road authorities to help them implement PRIMES locally.

Fiona Robertson owns the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum and is an observer for charity IAm RoadSmart in Forth Valley.

An avid motorcyclist herself, her business is a very popular stop-off for riders travelling between Argyll and the Highlands on the A82.

But she said the winding road to Fort William past her business is regularly closed due to accidents.

“The road closes constantly for hours and hours and it affects everybody in the queue, businesses and people travelling to catch ferries,” she said.

“I recently witnessed a biker taking a left-hand bend over a solid white line and you’re just cringing. You see people making inappropriate overtakes and inappropriate speed.

“The average rider doesn’t have the same ability as an advanced rider to make sure to use all of their side of the road.”

Fiona has welcomed the new road markings and hopes to see the scheme expanded across roads nationwide.

“They’re ingenious in their simplicity. Something needed to be done and it seems to be working,” she added.

“It’s invaluable once they understand what the road markings are.

“I’d love to see more throughout Scotland, in particular on more dangerous roads.

“That tiny bit of extra education for motorcyclists is invaluable.”

Scottish Government Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “The evidence of this project will encourage authorities across the country to adopt this. Then that could improve road safety of Scotland and help protect motorcyclists.

“We want to ensure we have a much better record and want to be one of the best performing in the world in terms of road safety by 2030.”

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