Protecting yourself on the highway, whether you’re a road worker or a driver, is a lot easier these days with the help of modern personal protective gear and road safety equipment. We take a look at some useful road safety innovations out there which have been designed to make using highways and byways less hazardous.
Road Safety Vests
High-visibility clothing is a necessity if you’re a doing any night shift road work or out and about in the evening for recreational purposes, like cycling, jogging or walking the dog. One of the newest ways to get lit up is with the Verve vest marketed by You Saw Me. This is a lightweight minimalist vest with coloured blinking lights designed to be seen from up to a mile away. As well as reflective material, it has 60 integrated LED bulbs that have eight different blink modes, 10 dimming settings and 30 hours of 9V battery life. It is waterproof, washable and has handy pockets.
Motorcyclists are one of the target markets for the Verve vest since this category is high risk when it comes to being vulnerable to road traffic. Road safety manufacturers ERS have also come up with the idea of an energy absorbing pad made out of polypropylene called the Biker-mate. This attaches to lamp posts, traffic lights and other hard objects at blackspots that could cause serious injury to anyone coming off a motorbike at speed. Tests have shown that the Biker-mate has an absorption rate of 68% and lessens the likelihood of severe injury. It is currently being used in the UK, Norway, Australia and New Zealand.
As well as being easily seen when you’re on a road, it is crucial to be able to be clearly informed day and night when there are road works or an accident. Reflective signs and road markers need to be highly visible to warn motorists, so they have plenty of time to slow down. This need has meant engineers are designing new and improved retroreflective sheeting that performs much better than glass beads with aluminium backing. Diamond grade is the retroreflective sheeting most commonly used nowadays for road signs and construction zones and has a visibility of 1,500 feet at night.
Solar powered signs
Another development in road signs is the use of solar power as a green alternative for electricity usage. As well as being highly efficient and sustainable all year round, solar powered signs can be used in remote locations not able to access power. These warn motorists of hazardous conditions and to slow down when nearing potential blackspots.
Glow in the Dark Roads
Taking road illumination a step further are the Dutch, who have opened a strip of glow-in-the-dark highway on the N329 in Oss. As well as illuminated lane markings to enable motorists to see where they are going, the ‘smart’ highway was initially designed to inform motorists about weather conditions, temperature and also charge electric cars. So far, they’ve just settled for photoluminescent road paint that is charged by sunlight during the day and lasts for 10 hours. Since streetlights are turned off at night in the Netherlands to save money, it is a welcome environmentally-friendly road safety innovation.