The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 November 2007

A studly innovation indeed

Driving at night is nerve-wracking, at least for me: you can glue extra lights to every single vehicle in the country and you'd still have to deal with the fact that you can't see a damn thing until it's almost too late.

The British are trying to buy some time:

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.

I'd question the use of the term "reaction time" here, since it's usually applied to how fast the driver actually reacts, not to how much time he has before he reacts, but this is a minor point.

There are further advantages. From the British press release:

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.

And the cost?

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.

Keep the snowplows (where applicable) from ripping them to shreds, and you've got a pretty persuasive package here.

Posted at 1:36 PM to Driver's Seat , Entirely Too Cool

looks like a great idea. i wonder how well they work if obscured by rain or snow on the ground though.

Posted by: hatless in hattiesburg at 9:28 PM on 21 November 2007