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Astucia “smart” road studs

1st May 2008 Print
Astucia “smart” road studs Astucia SolarLite, “smart” solar-powered road studs invented in the UK are making a significant contribution to road safety around the world.

A British designed “smart” road-stud is making a significant improvement to driving safety on roads around the world. It offers a significant boost in night-time or poor weather visibility compared with the traditional “cats-eye” road reflector, or lines painted down the side of roads.

Astucia road studs are produced and marketed by a division of the Clear View Traffic Group, based at Bicester in Oxfordshire and have become a British export success story. The SolarLite studs are now in use in approximately 120 locations across the UK, in the Netherlands, France, Australia and in South Africa. Road safety authorities have in several cases reported reductions in night time accidents of well over 70% since the installation of the “smart” road studs.

In addition the next generation of smart road markings are also being trialled. These can automatically illuminate to warn of bad weather or slow-moving traffic ahead, or can help reduce motorway hold-ups by automatically marking additional lanes to boost capacity.

Astucia’s vision is to reduce casualties and fatalities on roads throughout the world and to reduce congestion by safely increasing the capacity and effectiveness of road networks.

Astucia’s global distribution network includes: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Middle East, New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the USA.

The Astucia SolarLite™ solar-powered road stud was originally developed by a former London fire-fighter Martin Dicks and is totally self-sufficient. It stores energy collected by a solar panel during daylight, then built-in Light Emitting Diodes automatically illuminate after dark providing drivers with up to 900 metres of visibility.

This is ten times greater than the traditional, retro-reflective, passive road stud which relies on being illuminated by the headlight beam of the approaching vehicle, which at best has a useful range of 90 metres. The visibility of a night time corner without any delineation is of course, even less. The increased visibility given by the SolarLite road stud extends reaction times when driving at 100 km/h from 3.2 to over 30 seconds.

In the UK, Astucia SolarLite studs have made a significant improvement to the safety of a busy narrow and twisting rural in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, locally known as “The Five Mile Lane”. It had a background of an unacceptably high accident record, but in the three years since the initial installation of the Astucia SolarLite road studs, there has been a 72% reduction in accidents.

On the twisting A143 at Haddiscoe in Norfolk, England, there were previously 22 recorded accidents in a three year period, two of which involved loss of life and 6 caused serious injury. 95% of these accidents were as a result of loss of control. In the two years since SolarLite studs were installed there were only five recorded accidents, all of which were minor. None occurred in the dark. The overall accident frequency has reduced from 7.3 per year to 2.3 whilst the severity ratio has reduced from 36% to zero.

The use of Astucia solar-powered road studs on a notorious stretch of highway in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa demonstrated not only their effectiveness in road safety, but also their cost-effectiveness too. A major 2 year pilot project was carried out on one of the country's most notorious routes, the R66 north of Durban, which significantly reduced the number of serious accidents and road deaths on the busy highway.

In previous years, 88 serious accidents had claimed 27 lives and 15 less serious accidents had occurred on a twisting 34km section of the road between Melmoth and Ulundi. After the installation of 7,800 Astucia ‘smart’ road studs the accident rate fell to zero. The second stage of the installation extended the coverage to a total of c20,000 studs on 100 kilometres of the R66.

The provincial government of Kwazulu-Natal estimates that the cost of the 103 accidents before the Astucia studs were installed was some 27 million rand. The installation of the studs cost 5 million. Such was the impact of the trial that consideration is now being given by the national government to extending the technology to other 'red spots' throughout the country.

In Australia, the use of Astucia smart road studs is providing better safety for pedestrians at crossings on one of the busiest east – west arterial routes across the Australian state of Victoria/ The Princes Highway between Colac and Geelong virtually dissects the town of Winchelsea and local residents including school children have to cross this road daily.

Astucia developed a crossing system comprising of flush road studs containing 14 high brightness Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s), cabled together and integrated with the traditional crossing control system and warning lights. When activated, the ‘hardwired’ flush road studs flash intensely providing a clear warning, visible to drivers up to 1000 metres away. Additionally studs are installed in the carriageway centre line at the approach to the crossing. These studs strobe towards the oncoming traffic to provide further advanced warning of pedestrians using the crossing ahead.

Astucia’s ‘smart’ solar-powered road markings have proved a significant success in easing traffic congestion on Holland’s most crowded motorways, by allowing the Dutch Ministry of Transport to increase the capacity of the roads, by opening the hard shoulder as an extra lane during the rush hour. Dynamic Lane Markings indicate when the hard shoulder is open for use as an additional ‘plus-lane’.

The solar powered road studs are ‘hard wired’ to traffic control rooms and are illuminated during times of congestion, directing traffic from the motor way’s entry-ramp to the hard shoulder. The illuminated studs delineate the additional lane and also guide drivers onto the main carriageway when the plus-lane system is not in use.

In the French Alps, the energy efficiency of Astucia hard-wired road studs has offered a cost-effective means of illuminating the 374 meter long Galibier Tunnel between Grenoble and Valloire. When the tunnel was reopened after extensive renovation work in 2002, the decision was made to provide no traditional lighting within the tunnel, relying instead on Astucia ‘D Series’ hardwired, bi-directional amber studs mounted along the lower wall of the tunnel.

Drivers are literally guided though the tunnel by the studs, which also flash in sequence with the direction of traffic, as well as providing enhanced awareness of the proximity of the tunnel side walls. In addition to enhancing safety, the installation costs of the Astucia studs within the tunnel proved both less expensive than traditional lighting, but also significantly cheaper to operate. The reliability and very low power consumption of the built in LEDs of the Astucia D Series studs contribute to a significantly lower lifetime operating cost.

“Astucia’s prime aim is to provide smart, safe and sustainable technology, to reduce casualties and fatalities on roads throughout the world and to reduce congestion, by safely increasing the capacity and effectiveness of road networks.” says Astucia Sales and Marketing Director Martin Rodgers. “In over 120 installations around the UK, we’re already proving our intelligent road studs lead to fewer accidents and therefore save lives. Astucia’s vision is to give all road users around the world advance warning of any hazards and to provide round-the-clock reassurance to drivers.”

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Astucia “smart” road studs