Improving safety at junctions can save lives
1,810 people died on the UK’s roads in the year ending September 2016 according to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) provisional estimates. That’s a 2.4% increase from the previous year (1,767). In total, 25,160 people were killed or seriously injured over this period.
While the reported road casualties aren’t broken down into exactly where the accidents occurred, it is assumed a significant percentage of the Department for Transport figures for Great Britain took place at junctions, given the European Commission’s findings that 40-60% of the total number of accidents occur at junctions.
Speed compliance can be addressed using speed or safety cameras either fixed or mobile that allow speeding drivers to be fined. These act as both a deterrent and punishment for drivers found to be speeding. At Clearview, they prefer to use technology that encourages speed compliance at the time the driver is speeding, rather than after the event. For example, with Vehicle Activated Signage that prompts a speeding driver to slow down or by utilising traffic signals to actively stop speeding drivers by presenting them with a red light.
Research into Vehicle Activated Signage on behalf of the Department for Transport reported that drivers can be influenced to reduce speed with specifically targeted messaging, whilst fixed signs used in isolation are less likely to produce this positive effect. The researchers found that: ‘Vehicle-activated signs appear to be very effective in reducing speeds; in particular, they are capable of reducing the number of drivers who exceed the speed limit and who contribute disproportionately to the accident risk, without the need for enforcement such as safety cameras.’
A combination of warning signs and traffic lights driven by wireless vehicle speed detection is used to encourage speed compliance on the A78 in Fairlie and has been effective in reducing speeding through the village.
Driver awareness of upcoming hazards can also be heightened using dynamic signage to complement existing static road signs. In such solutions Vehicle Activated Signage is used to highlight hazards to drivers in real-time and in response to the situation on the road ahead. These can increase awareness of a range of hazards at different junction types.
On the A701 in Beattock, the junction warning system utilises both fixed and vehicle activated messages to warn drivers of the upcoming junction on a bend in the road and to encourage them to reduce their speed. If a vehicle approaches as another one is detected waiting to join the main road, the sign displays a ‘vehicle turning’ message. If a vehicle approaches faster than the set threshold the sign displays a ‘slow down’ message.
In Cumbria on the A590, similar technology is used to reduce the risk of side-on collisions posed by long heavy goods vehicles turning right. The vehicles are detected and classified in the central reservation area so that a warning sign can be activated when a truck is waiting to turn.
The wide range of junction safety solutions are demonstrated in Clearview Intelligence’s junction safety video above.
Driver behaviour can be further improved through increasing visibility of the road layout ahead, allowing drivers more time to react and adjust their driving to suit the scenario and conditions. Active road studs that utilise solar powered LED technology provide visibility of the road ahead up to 10x further than traditional cat’s eyes.
Clearview Intelligence deployed over 4,100 such studs on the A1 in Scotland to highlight junctions and carriageway edges. The studs allow junctions to be defined to approaching drivers so they are made aware of the possibility of traffic joining the carriageway ahead.
Such solutions represent solid value for money when compared to the astronomical costs – human, environmental, and economic – of avoidable deaths and serious injuries caused by collisions between road users of all types at junctions.