While the UK enjoys a particularly hot summer, Highways England (HE) is harnessing the power of the sun to help improve night-time road safety on a high-risk route in the country’s East Midlands region.
HE has installed more than 4,500 innovative solar road studs that harness sunlight in the daytime and light up the road at night, helping drivers traveling on the A38 major trunk route stay safe. One of the main benefits of the road studs is that they are also effective in heavy rain, mist or fog, and a four-hour charge from daylight can power the devices for more than 200 hours.
The studs have been introduced as part of £8.5m (US$11.1m) worth of improvements to journeys along the A38 between Ripley and junction 28 of the M1 near Mansfield, a stretch used by more than 23,000 vehicles every day. The improvements also include high visibility lane markings that make it easier for drivers at night or in adverse weather conditions, and colored high friction surface that reduces the risk of skidding.
Standard road studs, or cat’s eyes, require car headlights to illuminate their reflective surface, and typically this means that the headlight reflections can be seen up to 295ft (90m) away, giving drivers traveling at 60mph (96km/h) around three seconds to react to conditions on the road.
Designed and manufactured by Clearview Intelligence, the new SolarLite 2 intelligent road studs are powered by solar energy, with a panel absorbing power during the day. Throughout the night they generate their own light through a battery-powered LED and can be seen up to 2,952ft (900m) away, giving drivers traveling at 60mph more than 30 seconds to react. The new studs are also more durable, lasting up to five years longer than standard studs; require less maintenance during their lifetime; and at only 4mm in height, they are safer for motorcycles.
Previous installations of SolarLite active road studs have reduced night-time accident rates by more than 70%, based on crash statistics over a two-year period on the A143 in Norfolk, and on the A4226 at Barry over a three-year period.
The second-generation SolarLite road studs have been available since the spring of this year in a full range of color options for all road and path delineation uses, including white, amber, red, blue, and green.
“We’re always looking for new ways to further improve journeys and safety for drivers, and this is a great example of that,” noted HE’s project manager, Matthew Carruthers. “This section of carriageway has no street lighting, so the solar road studs and improved lane markings make a real difference. At the same time the new technology is more durable, meaning less disruption for motorists in the long-term thanks to fewer roadworks.”