Highways England trials inflatable safety barrier for workzones

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An inflatable safety barrier, that can be put up in a matter of minutes, is being trialled on workzones in the Midlands, England, to help protect road workers.

The new airbag aims to reduce the number of motorists that mistakenly drive into workzones putting the drivers and road workers at risk. Large, bright and very visible, the Vehicle Incursion Airbag sends a clear message to drivers but can also be put in place very quickly – it is inflated in under 10 minutes.

“On average, our road workers report approximately 240 incidents of vehicle incursions each month. It is a far too frequent hazard for our workforce going about their daily job – and the consequences could be fatal,” says Highways England’s Midlands innovation manager, Lisa Maric. “We are committed to keeping our workforce safe and doing all we can to ensure no-one is harmed when travelling or working on our network. We are also committed to investing in new innovations to help improve safety for road workers and users.

The new barrier can be inflated in under 10 minutes

“We hope these airbags will go some way to protecting our workers but also help change drivers’ behaviours. We ask drivers to respect our road workers, to slow down near works and obey speed limits and signs.”

In the initial trial it will be installed as part of a weekend junction and slip road closure, but it is anticipated that the airbag will be tested within various types of temporary traffic management scenarios over the coming months.

The inflatable barrier is in addition to cones and signs, adding another layer to the traditional traffic management to influence drivers’ behaviour and prevent vehicle incursions.

The £95,700 cost of the airbags trial was met through the Designated Funds programme. Highways England had a £150 million ring-fenced fund allocated to support innovation as support of the Road Investment Strategy for 2015-2020.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early 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).