A national examination of England’s local roads will be carried out amid concerns that poor markings are putting safety at risk, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
High-definition images of nearly 100,000 miles of road will be analysed under the project.
The DfT will use the findings to advise councils on what areas are most in need of investment.
It has awarded £2 million to North Yorkshire-based firm Gaist, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to review 150 million images of road markings.
Worn-out markings can make it difficult for road users to distinguish whether it is safe to overtake, parking is allowed or how wide a lane is.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Road markings play a vital role in keeping everyone who is using the road safe, so making sure they’re up to standard is imperative.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “The use of AI is novel, but there is a danger that this activity will simply confirm what many drivers already know – that in many cases lane markings have worn away, causing confusion for all road users.
“Markings are vital in helping everyone use roads safely and properly. It’s likely to be funding that councils really need to ensure they are up to a decent standard.”
The funding is part of a wider £350 million package to boost local roads over the next four years.
Councils will be able to bid for a share of the cash to fund major maintenance projects as well as schemes to ease congestion.
The first pot of investment – worth nearly £200 million – will be available over the next two years for works such as strengthening bridges or repairing potholes.
A further £150 million will go towards council projects designed to tackle traffic pinch points.
The DfT said the announcement follows £6.6 billion of investment in local road maintenance in the last five years.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “It is good that the Department for Transport is to invest much-needed funding into improving local roads.
“However, only long-term investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to deliver the widespread and sustainable improvement of our roads that is needed, to the benefit of all road users up and down the country.
“It is not right that the Government spends 43 times more per mile on maintaining our national roads – which make up just 3% of all roads – than on local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97% of England’s road network.”