Vegetation Management and Road Safety – A Data Driven Approach

Date 20.10.2023
Category Advice
Author Amy Dutson

Road traffic collisions at junctions remain a significant concern in the UK, often attributed to impaired visibility caused by overgrown vegetation. Government guidelines were produced to improve safety at junctions by means of “Visibility Splays” - the area that needs to remain clear of vegetation so that drivers can see along the road. 

In very simple terms, these splays should reach around 75m along the edge of the road in both directions and provide the driver with visibility from 5m before the end of the emerging road (measurements depending on the speed limits involved). In practice, maintenance crews would need tape measures, traffic management and a way to mark out the region they need to cut, all of which are costly and would take a lot of time to set out before they can even get to trimming. As a result, vegetation is typically either over-cut, removing more habitat than is required, or crews do a best estimate by eye, but unsurprisingly this can prove quite inaccurate, resulting dangerous junctions. 

Through innovative research combining road data with vegetation information, we are streamlining grass and hedge management, saving time and improving accuracy with an efficient digital solution. This data is combined and then made available to view clearly on a map, showing each area and the level of risk associated with it. 

Strategic Filters: A Data-Driven Safety Measure 

Not all junctions pose the same level of risk. Consider approaching a junction onto a busy 60mph road, obstructed by overgrown vegetation. It would be tricky to join the road safely. This digital system can discern these distinctions, prioritising maintenance on junctions joining busier, higher-speed roads. By channelling resources towards high-risk zones, we ensure a targeted approach that enhances grass management efficiency, subsequently reducing the risk of accidents on busy junctions. 

Tailored Solutions for Varied Landscapes 

Contrary to popular belief, most accidents in the UK occur on rural roads. The system's capability to differentiate between rural and urban junctions allows for a tailored solution to vegetation maintenance prioritisation in the UK's accident-prone regions. By implementing more frequent maintenance cycles in rural areas, where obstructive vegetation is more prevalent and the accident rate is higher, maintenance is targeted towards critical junctions. This focused strategy acknowledges the diverse nature of the UK's road network, guaranteeing that each area receives the attention it demands. 

A Roadmap to Safer Roads 

In the world of vegetation management, this approach is pioneering; utilising data-driven solutions to boost maintenance efficiency and reduce the likelihood of collisions in accident-prone areas. The implementation of this system signifies not only a technological leap forward but also a shift in how we approach vegetation management and road safety. 

This transformative approach to vegetation management, with a keen focus on visibility splays, promises safer roads and junctions. By leveraging advanced technology and data-driven insights, we are setting a new standard in road safety and maintenance practices.