Recently, due to reduced council budgets, most of the concern regarding carriageway wear and tear has been focusing on potholes – but I believe there is a more serious and pressing issue regarding road surfaces and, in particular, anti-skid surfaces.
Anti-skid strips are sections of road covered in a grittier – and variously coloured – surface, usually on bends, school and pedestrian crossings, bus lanes, cycle lanes, motorway junctions and so forth, which sole purpose is to provide a better surface to enable vehicles to brake and come to a stop quicker than a normal tarmac surface.
This gripped surface is ideal when it is first applied. I have no doubt that it has reduced accidents on these bad bends and prevents under-steering/over-steering of the car while taking the turn, but it is when this surface begins to wear – on fast bends – that I believe it actually causes more risk than a normal tarred surface. This wear can be visible on many roads in the Borders and it is my opinion that if councils do not redress this surface-wearing issue, then they are guilty of gross misconduct and possibly putting lives at risk.
When this surface starts to wear it is then immediate attention needs to be carried out. As wearing continues, it causes a rippling effect where the resin and aggregate wears off and the tarmac underneath starts to show.
When taking a fast bend where this resin has started to ripple, the vehicle tyres lose traction as the car basically bounces over the ripples in the anti-skid. You can actually feel the back end your car trying to snake out when taking a bend where this product has started to wear and ripple.
I know of some bad spots on the A7 just north of Heriot and also on the A68 at Carter Bar where rippling of the grip surface has occurred. No doubt there will be a guaranteed lifespan period of this anti-skid compound and I wonder if the council is actually aware that it has an obligation to make these corners safe and renew this material before this problem ends up causing a fatality.
I personally know of one person who lost control of his car on the Heriot bend and ended up in the ditch.
My view is that the main cause of this problem harks back to the usual underfunding on roads by various local authorities due to either debt or slashed budgets from the government.
Councils are facing unprecedented legal claims from the public for damaged vehicles, bikes and medical bills due to potholes and faded white lines. But I think this problem with anti-skid wear should be made high priority on the council’s list to either resurface these bends with new anti-skid resin or remove the old resin altogether and return it back to a tarmac surface.
At least if it’s tarmac it won’t give oncoming drivers the illusion that they are driving into a well-surfaced and enhanced-gripped corner rather than a rippling death trap.