• Nov 21, 2007

Night-time travel is a necessary part of the busy world in which we live, but due to decreased visibility, traveling in the dark can be dangerous. The British have shed some light on night driving with the invention of the Astucia SolarLite flush road stud. The stud emits LED light, which is powered by small solar panels. The new stud tech is present on 120 British roads, and night-time accidents are down a dramatic 70% since the devices were installed. Amazingly, the SolarLite road stud gives drivers 900 meters of visibility, which increases reaction times to over 30 seconds. Reaction time with standard reflector studs is just 3.2 seconds.

With thousands of Americans dying on night roads every year, any incremental price vs. reflector studs would likely be a drop in the bucket when compared to the incredible savings in insurance claims alone. The government mandates billions of dollars in safety equipment on our cars and trucks, and both the automakers and customers foot the bill in the name of safety. If the SolarLite road stud is nearly as effective as it claims, the governments incorporating them could effectively reduce the likelihood that many automotive safety features would never need to be deployed.

[Source: Astucia]

20th November 2007

BRITISH INVENTION SHOWS WAY AHEAD IN NIGHT-TIME DRIVING

Astucia SolarLite flush road stud uses stored solar power to give a ten-fold improvement in night time road visibility.

Shorter days and longer hours of darkness, along with inclement winter weather place particular emphasis on the need for road delineation, to show the driver where the road goes next. The latest generation of a British-designed "smart" road-stud has just been certified by the Department for Transport and is making a significant improvement to driving safety, with a big boost in visibility compared with the traditional reflective "cats-eye."

The Astucia SolarLite™ stud stores solar energy during the day, then built-in Light Emitting Diodes automatically illuminate from dusk to dawn, 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. At best it has a useful range of 90 metres.

The increased visibility given by the SolarLite road stud extends driver reaction times from 3.2 to over 30 seconds, when driving at 60mph. The studs are now in use in approximately 120 locations across the UK and a number of Local Authorities have reported reductions in night time accidents of well over 70% since the installation of the SolarLite "smart" road studs.

Research carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory also shows that when the smart studs are used, drivers also significantly less likely to cross the white line in the centre of a road or move out of lane on a dual carriageway. They also brake earlier and more consistently.

The greater number of visual references also means that drivers tend not to speed into the corners. In addition, the flush fitting studs are also safer for cyclist and motorcyclists. All make their contribution to added driving safety.

The latest generation of the SolarLite F Series intelligent road stud has taken advantage of improved solar panel and Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, along with internal design developments, to allow costs to be dramatically reduced in comparison with earlier units.

The latest Astucia stud reduces casualties on the road and has a projected life of eight to ten years, compared with just one to two years for a conventional retro-reflective stud. Over its lifespan an Astucia "smart" stud will therefore cost no more than a traditional cat's eye. The units' efficiency can also allow a reduction in the use of energy- and maintenance-intensive, carbon-inefficient, streetlights.

In comparison with the cost and trauma of a fatal road accident of course, the price of any road stud fades into insignificance. According to the latest UK Department for Transport annual statistics, there are on average more than 8 fatal accidents every day, each one costing the country £1.69 million pounds. While only one third of all journeys occur at night, almost half of the serious or fatal accidents occur during the hours of darkness.

In the UK, Astucia road studs are currently installed on roads in Lothian in Scotland, the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, in Buckinghamshire, Norfolk and Oxfordshire. They are also used in more specialised applications such as demarking cycle lanes in Cambridgeshire and Fast Track bus lanes in Essex.

The smart, safe and sustainable concept that created the Astucia SolarLite studs was conceived in 1989 by Martin Dicks. A former member of the London Fire Brigade, he formed Astucia to develop and market his invention in 1992..

Martin is recognised within the industry as one of the true visionaries in this vital field of road safety, building on the legacy of Percy Shaw, the inventor of the original "cats-eye" in the 1930s. Dicks is the inventor of an entire product range covering solar and hardwired studs, including studs that can warn of impending hazards such as fog, ice and surface water, or stationary traffic ahead

In 2003, Astucia made a significant step forward when John Madejski OBE DL, best known for his ownership of Reading Football Club and, more recently for his charitable work in the arts field supporting the Royal Academy and the V&A museum, acquired a controlling interest in the business. He made further investments to fund the R&D program and has supported the development of the company as a part of the Clearview Traffic Group, which also includes Golden River Traffic, a leader in the field of automated traffic counting and classifying, and Count On Us, the largest UK provider of transportation data collection and analysis services.

"Astucia is shaping the future of traffic safety by providing superior information to drivers about potential hazards direct from the road in their natural field of vision" says Martin Rodgers, sales and marketing director for Clearview Traffic. "The advance information on the road ahead provided to drivers by the Astucia studs is clearly proven to reduce incidents, so we're delighted to be able to bring to the market this next generation of flush stud, which is also easier and therefore cheaper to install, further justifying a unique British product which is continuing to prevent accidents and save lives."



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  • 49 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hmmm...very interesting. I think the Astucia SolarLite flush road stud markers are a great product to adopt for today's highway-road environments.

      Today's road conditions may vary depending on weather-time. I do believe a product like the Astucia Solarlite highway markers can make the roads a bit safer, espeacially during night driving and harsh weather-heavy rain-foggy driving conditions.

      States and Cities with population growth may also benefit with the increase road visibility. Overall, I think the Astucia Solarlite road markers are a great safety product. Interesting article.
      Bryan
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it is a good idea!
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's true. Solar powered LED road studs is the result of advanced technology.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would make the dark drive across northern Pennsylvania more interesting, but after a few miles may grow very tiresome and annoying.
        • 7 Years Ago
        i think it's great,

        now we can all go out for a joy ride at 2AM without worrying about police.

        taking those turns without these lights is way too risky, but now it's just like day time.

        bring on the joy
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Poconos would merrit these aswell plus it'd allow you to concentrate more on looking out for deers and not at the 50 feet of road infront of the car. Plus the low glow would be cool imo.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I really wouldn't categorize my comment as "negative" more like seeing it as a distraction. I drive in Connecticut mostly at night on the higways and for the most part, they are very well lit almost eh the entire length of the highway (I-84). When I make my monthly trips to upstate PA, the long drive on I-84 is VERY dark and the little lights in the road would become more of a distraction than the multiple 18 wheelers doing 80mph in the driving lanes! It's a neat technology, but not something I would like.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Road reflectors are not very widespread in parts of the U.S. where winter snow is prevalent, because the plows used to clear the roads scrape them off.

      I'm all for improving road safety, but I'd like to see something that can be installed more flush with the road surface.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, I used to work for a company that supplies the reflective lane markers for a good portion of the country and they have specific reflectors for areas that snow. They are embedded into the ground and have metal guides on the side for plows to slide over. You must live in California.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, the contractors in California would make a divot in the pavement and place the reflector in the divot in areas where snow is possible. The freeways in these parts also don't have Botts dots.
        • 7 Years Ago
        We have this problem also. What they did was installed the reflectors on small poles along the road. It's a little more expensive since you have to put poles but at least it's not scrapped off and back to zero every winter. :)

        I would love to see these LEDs soon... it's a very simple andcost effective way of brightening a dark road.
        • 7 Years Ago
        We get lots of snow in Canada and we have road reflectors. They just put them into the road not on top.

        ***Anyone who wants to see these lights in action they are road testing them on a section of Highway 403 in Ancaster, Ontario. Been there for Months. Personally I find them a bit bright on the eyes. I wouldn't want to see the whole road done with them.
      • 7 Years Ago
      About fricking time, thought about this 20 years ago...

      • 7 Years Ago
      British invention my ass. We've had these here in Romania for almost two years. They're very impressive but the reliability is crap.

      It's allright if the weather is nice and all that but if there's been a gloomy day only 1 in 5 will glow at night and it'll glow dim.

      Even more worrying is that when the very hot weather comes in the LEDs cook in the asphalt and they need to be replaced.
      Also very cold weather (below -5C) drains their batteries so badly that they'll only shine for a few hours in the evening before dying.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, maybe the brits invented non-romanian led road lights. The ones you have sound like American cars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        CMDR

        A rather lame attempt at trying to be funny. Nice try though with your pointless bashing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Thats great. It should be on all roads.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Actually, technology like this opens the door for even more ideas in safety.

      What about including an Infra-Red diode in each marker so that in the future, it will cater for cars that use Infra-Red based night vision.
      The S Class and numerous luxury cars are making use of Infra-Red cameras already.
      This might be a valuable inclusion.
      Perhaps it may open the door to fully automated driving?

      I have read posts about flashing LEDs, and had an idea:
      Typically, a cars ECU knows when it is involved in a collision (deployment airbags, pretensioners, shock sensors ect).
      The government should introduce a new standard, that cars involved in a collision should emit a radio frequency.
      If the manufacturers of these LED Markers included a radio receiver to pickto locate car accidents and prevent further tragedy in a collision.
      Once the LED markers receive this radio signal, they should switch to a flashing pattern to alert oncoming drivers that there is an accident ahead.
      This could totally eliminate car pileups on foggy roads, or roads with very little visibility.
      A constant radio signal could be emitted from the car, so LED markers on desolate roads can shut off to save power.

      This idea could be furthered with different light patterns.
      A radio transmitter could be set up in town, and set to broadcast certain signals for different weather.
      Icy roads could be indicated with one pattern, wet roads could be indicated with another.

      AND, the markers could even be used to transfer these messages to the car with its infra-red diodes.

      AND, important messages for certain roads can be programmed into specific markers to be picked up by the vehicles that pass also using infra-red.
      Speed limits, Twisting steep roads ect.
      Could eliminate the need for road signs.

      Ahhh! I just wish they would bring them here to Australia.
      They have nothing like it here.
      • 7 Years Ago
      We have these on a few roads around me. They're quite odd when you first see them, as a normal cat-eye is obviously dark when you're actually driving past it, but as these are active they can be quite distracting in your periphery. After a while though they're much nicer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Great idea, especially for adverse-condition driving. I had to drive in the rain a few nights ago, and with a combination of reflection off the road and the headlights of on-coming traffic, along with my contacts being scratchy, I could only see 4-5 lines in front of me, making the lines more visible has always been an issue,and I think this could be a great idea!

      Implement this now!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      This sounds like a great idea. I wonder how bright they are? If they are too bright that might actually strain the eyes on long road trips, but if they can emit a soft but visible glow then they might be just right!
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