A new innovation has been introduced to the UK road network in a bid to further reduce accidents and more clearly distinguish driving lanes. The testing area is currently undergoing a huge redevelopment in a bid to improve journeys and road safety, with more than £3 million invested into the scheme.
New ‘smart road studs’ have been installed at one of the busiest intersections in Merseyside, comprising the M57 and M58 motorways and three major A roads. This latest addition comprises 175 “airport-runway-style” smart LED studs on the road to vastly improve lane visibility and pathways, meaning that drivers should no longer need to make last-minute lane changes or go in the wrong direction because of poor lane marking. As the junction is currently used by some 90,000 new and used cars each day, the poor lane visibility has been a persistent issue. The new studs can be seen from around 900 metres, a huge increase on the more traditional reflective lane lights and studs and gives drivers a chance to get into the correct lane much earlier and avoid collisions.
The LED lighting has already been introduced at Surrey’s Hindhead Tunnel, but that was a much smaller case, simply guiding drivers through the tunnel safely. The new testing area is also directly linked to the traffic lights at the junction, turning green when the relevant traffic light becomes green so that motorists can clearly see their route ahead of them. The junction has experienced 49 accidents and collisions in the past couple of years, and if that can be reduced it will not only help to minimise insurance policy claims but will make drivers feel safer and reduce unnecessary delays caused by the accidents.
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Money for the project has been supplied from the government’s congestion relief funds, which amount to around £220 million in total nationwide. Other work taking place at the junction includes improvements to barriers, five-metre-high traffic lights which can be seen more clearly from a distance and improved road markings and signage. Cyclists are also catered for, with an all new 400 metre cycle path linking up with the existing path.
The introduction of this new technology may be a precursor to a more widespread roll out of such systems, all of which should help improve travel times, reduce the risk of accidents at busy junctions and result in fewer insurance claims. At a time when the motor trade is coming under increased pressure to make efficiency improvements to vehicles, and insurance premiums continue to show an upward trend, this new innovation is a small but welcome boost to motorists and a sign of the government’s commitment to improving local, regional and national transport networks.