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Why road safety is getting to be a real juggling act

Why road safety is getting to be a real juggling act - what are the options?

The government’s dangerous road fund has attracted a lot of attention in recent months as cash strapped local authorities seek out ways to find vital funding to address road safety issues in their regions. Last week the successful applications were announced with 56 roads across Britain receiving funding to improve safety. As route safety experts, Clearview welcome this targeted investment.

Over the past 20 years we have been deploying our delineation and vehicle detection technology across the UK’s roads and are proud of our record in helping reduce dangers in accident blackspots. More recently, we have developed innovative combined solutions centered around intelligent vehicle activated signs that respond to what is happening on the road in real-time. For us route safety is not just addressing problem roads that already have a poor safety record, but also considering how to put in a place long-term, cost-effective solutions on all types of roads that mitigate future dangerous situations from developing.

When considering how to approach the selection and funding of new route safety schemes it is important to have evidence that there is a problem. This may come from obvious sources such as KSI figures but it may also come from local pressure groups and other qualitative requests. At this point it may well be worth instigating monitoring or surveys of traffic density and speeds to help decide on your priority of placing resources and spend.

Using data will help prioritise your plans and identify future issues on the network, but being able to justify investment in a scheme is another matter. We looked at ways to help show a return on investment back in October 2017.

The calculations are still relevant today and utilising fact based tools and thinking will go a long way to clarifying the needs against the emotional pressures that inevitably build up around dangerous road hotspots. It is also valid to consider implementing safety improvements when carrying out road maintenance, especially when undertaking resurfacing, replacement of old kit or other major works. Times change and technology has moved on, meaning improvements can be made within the maintenance budgets if carefully thought through.

What solutions do you really need?

Each road is different. Our route safety solutions are designed to the needs of each particular situation, as each road has its own topography, design, traffic flow and dangers. But safety improvements typically include changes to road design, the road surface, line markings, delineation and informing the driver of any danger ahead.

Clearview’s solutions can involve a combination of all the above ideas but we see the most improvements from combining clearer delineation of the road layout, aligned to detecting when a dangerous situation may occur and using reactive signage to inform oncoming traffic of the situation. The use of signage that adapts the message to the situation improves the impact of the warning to a driver compared to fixed signage, where ‘message fatigue’ leads to a reduction in impact over time.

The ability to put in place vehicle detection on a dangerous stretch of road is where we believe the biggest impact to KSIs can be made. This relatively new approach means warning are triggered only when deemed necessary and the subsequent message impact can have the greatest effect. A recent example of this is in our case study for the Bellfield Interchange where we installed a queue detection solution on the approach to, and up the slip road. The detection points were split between on the carriageway and on the slip road, meaning the warning signs can accurately reflect where any dangerous queues are building and inform traffic accordingly.

The pressures on road budgets are not going away and so it is down to the road operator and partners, such as Clearview, to continue to come up with innovative ways in which to address the problem of dangerous roads.

If you have a situation that requires outside of the box thinking on how to get the best solution for the budget available — call us. We welcome the opportunity to help you solve it and create a safer road network for all drivers.
Uploaded 21/06/2018