Electronic warning signs reduce accidents for Derbyshire County Council


Swarco Traffic has deployed its innovative Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) to help reduce accidents at a notorious road junction in a project for Derbyshire County

Council (DCC).

A crossing on the busy A619 Troughbrook junction near Chesterfield had been the scene of a number of incidents in recent years, prompting DCC to find a permanent accident-prevention solution. Having previously worked with Swarco on other projects, it turned to the UK division of the Austrian technology company to tailor a new system to address its needs at the blackspot.

Swarco recommended a system comprising two VAS units with above ground virtual loop detection. Thermal imaging cameras detect the heat signature of vehicles waiting to cross the main road. Once a vehicle occupies a pre-set detection zone for a certain period, a fixed warning message is displayed to alert oncoming vehicles of traffic turning. In addition, when an oncoming vehicle exceeds a pre-set speed threshold, a warning message is also displayed.

The LED display VAS units and control cabinet are hard wired with new replacement cable throughout, using existing ductwork. The council carried out its own civil engineering works and Swarco provided traffic management throughout the project. The system is managed remotely using the Swarco Profectus remote monitoring system already installed for Derbyshire CC. The installation of a controller cabinet also enables easy maintenance with access available at street level, thereby negating the need for expensive temporary traffic management and creating a safer working environment for engineers.

“A particular challenge on the project was installing the system in extreme winter weather,” explained Derek Williamson, head of sales and business development at Swarco. “Large traffic volumes along the route meant the works had to be carried out during off-peak working hours, and we planned the installation to cause the least amount of disruption as possible.

“Even with the bad weather, the project was still completed within eight weeks. The use of above ground detection was also an advantage, as it removes the issues previously experienced with having to replace costly inductive loops caused by road surfaces deteriorating or being replaced. The thermal imaging of the cameras also provides a much more reliable detection rate of vehicles than that of previous video detection cameras.”

Mark Hewitt from DCC’s traffic and safety section noted, “The A619 Chesterfield Road at its junction with Troughbrook Road and Inkersall Green Road has a history of accidents. The electronic junction warning signs play a key role by advising approaching vehicles of turning traffic at the junctions.

“In addition to this, the system also advises approaching traffic if their speed is above a certain threshold, helping to reduce vehicle speeds overall. Swarco provides an effective, durable and reliable product which is always customized to our needs. I look forward to working with their team again in the future.”

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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).