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Let's use technology to reduce junction dangers

The past week or so has seen the British weather at its random best. Wind, rain, snow and sunshine all combining to challenge us on the UK road network. And of course the continuing dark mornings and evenings do not help the road user to navigate safely to the end of their journeys.

With good visibility hard to come by during the winter months, drivers need to be extra vigilant on the roads, especially around junctions where interaction with other vehicles is at its highest.
Next time you drive home in the dark, take a conscious look at how much more difficult it is to see what is happening on approaching a junction, and on how users are guided through them. The age of austerity and subsequent tightening of Local Authority budgets means road markings are fading, cat's eyes are not being replaced and street lighting is being switched off or not installed.

Even 'safe' junctions with good street lighting and functioning cat's eyes are at greater risk when there is heavy traffic and darkness combined.

The EURORAP Making Road Travel As Safe As Rail and Air report highlights the need to continue to research and put in place new ideas around influencing drivers and providing them with better visual and information aids. This includes the approach and navigation of junctions where it recognises that the largest single cause of serious injury on the network are crashes at junctions (33%).

So what can be done to influence and guide drivers?

Traditional warning signs are useful and a familiar sight on our roads but the range of these are restricted by the highway code and are traditionally speed or approach orientated. Because they are so familiar they are also very easily overlooked, a subject we covered in a blog about inattentional blindness last year by our very own Stephen Ladyman.

Variable Message Signs (VMS) and Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) are becoming more common on our road network and on motorways and major trunk roads as the Government seek to increase investment in SMART Highways.

The ability of these signs to change the information provided is particularly useful when dealing with the variability of a junction set up. It could be argued that no two junctions are the same—different volumes of traffic and usage patterns, varying topography and design can create a myriad of challenges in trying to inform approaching drivers of any dangers.

The challenge is to make technology work together to inform the signage, and Clearview Intelligence have recently enjoyed success in putting in place route safety solutions that cater for very different requirements.

A prime example of this is on the A701 Beattock in Scotland. In the video you can see how we have created a route safety system that utilises fixed and vehicle activated messages. The sign warns drivers of the upcoming junction, then adds to this with a 'vehicle turning' message when a vehicle is detected waiting to join the main trunk road. In addition, we have designed the solution to detect any traffic that exceeds a set speed threshold, which then activates a warning message on the same sign.

This solution helps inform oncoming traffic of potential dangers ahead as well as influencing and reducing the speed of approaching traffic.

These kind of innovative solutions are becoming more common as local authorities recognise that new technology can be harnessed in increasingly unique ways.

Other examples of Clearview Intelligence's innovative solutions can be found on our Route Safety page. From VMS and VAS solutions through to clever use of SolarLite, a combined and intelligent use of existing technology can radically reduce the dangers around junctions.

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: January 2017

Links: Route Safety

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