Swarco’s speed-activated signs deployed at accident blackspots in London Borough


To support an accident reduction program in the London Borough of Brent, Swarco Traffic has installed Vehicle Activated Speed (VAS) signs at key locations across the borough where significant numbers of accidents have occurred.

Coordinated by Brent council, this particular project is aimed at reducing collisions, casualties, road danger and accidents that involve powered two wheelers (P2W – primarily motorcycles and mopeds) throughout the borough, in line with the UK government’s road safety strategy to reduce the number of road traffic accidents (RTAs) across the country.

According to the national Think! road safety campaign, injuries to motorcyclists are out of proportion to all other RTAs: despite being just 1% of total traffic they account for 19% of all road deaths.

Through the analysis of traffic accident information provided by the Metropolitan Police, Brent council has identified locations that would most benefit from accident reduction measures. Individual accidents were also studied to identify patterns and the main causes of accidents involving P2Ws. The locations for the VAS were chosen based on the cluster of P2W accidents that occurred at speeds of 40mph (64km/h) or below.

Swarco has installed 34 VAS, most of which are fixed to existing light columns, while some are solar powered. The signs use Swarco’s latest LED technology, which gives the greatest optical output, providing dramatically increased reliability while also reducing power consumption.

Each VAS has a pre-set threshold speed, appropriate for the location, and when activated by an approaching vehicle over the threshold, its speed is displayed along with either an instruction of ‘slow down’ or a ‘sad face’ in red. For vehicles driving within the speed limits, a ‘happy face’ or ‘thank you’ is shown in green.

“One of the most common causes of accidents involving P2Ws is high speeds,” explained Chhaganlal J Dabhi, project engineer for Brent council’s highways and infrastructure service.

“And high speeds can cause severe injuries and fatalities, particularly for a motorbike rider who is the most exposed and vulnerable. However, we also know that one of the most effective measures to reduce accidents at specific locations is to inform all road users of the hazards and prevailing dangers, and advise them accordingly.

“While we wait to see what the data reveals in terms of the signs’ effectiveness, we are pleased that the project is bringing about more general awareness to all road users about the potential dangers to motorcyclists and reducing accidents overall.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).