PRIMED for the ride - New motorcycle road markings explained

PRIME road markings have been appearing on roads in west Scotland, but where are they and what do they mean?

PRIME road markings sign

IT’S no surprise to learn that a great number of motorcycle accidents on the UK’s roads occur on bends. Be it oncoming traffic, pot-holes, bad weather or all three, add in some other factors and a bend in the road can become treacherous for us bikers.

To try and combat this and reduce motorcycle casualties, a new type of road marking has been introduced in Scotland by the Road Safety Trust. The aim of the markings is to reduce a rider’s speed and improve their road position, and the rider's braking behaviour.

What do PRIME road markings mean?

The new dashes that are appearing on the road are called ‘PRIME’ markings, and that stands for ‘Perceptual Rider Information for Maximising Expertise and Enjoyment’. They rely on something called 'nudge psychology', which uses the way the environment is shaped to push people towards the correct choice in any given situation. As it stands the markings are only being used on left-handed bends, as statistics suggest these are the most problematic corners for motorcycle riders - it’s perceived that being able to gauge the severity of a left-hander when you are already in the left-hand lane is more difficult than in a right-hander (where the rider’s view through the corner is improved). The idea behind them is that the funnel effect the road markings create pushes the rider to try and thread the needle of the corner, and in doing so, slow them down as they ensure they take the most accurate route through the turn. Interestingly, research suggests that motorcyclists are hard to re-educate (who, me…?) and it’s hoped that this soft approach to improving road safety will have more of an effect than simply posting more ‘SLOW’ signs or worse, more speed cameras.

The markings have been on some Scottish roads for some years now, with trials of the PRIME system beginning in 2021, and some 22 sites across 750 square miles of Western Scotland. From that trail, the scientists have crunched the numbers after watching video footage of over 32,000 motorcyclists and the result is a significant reduction in speed, improvement in road position both on the approach and apex of the bend, and an improvement in the rider’s braking behaviour. 

Speaking about the new PRIME road markings, Scottish Government Minister for Transport, Fiona Hyslop MSP, said:
“The evidence on the impact of Project PRIME is astounding. This is a real triumph for road safety, demonstrating what happens when the latest academic theory is supported by real-world application – all made possible thanks to Scottish engineering and a strong partnership approach.

“Scotland is working with partners to have the best road safety performance in the world by 2030 and an ambitious long-term goal where no one is seriously injured or killed on our roads by 2050. Project PRIME has responded through innovative engineering – and has proven that this is an approach that could be used globally under similar road conditions.”

You can read more about PRIME road markings on this website.

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