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01 July 2005

Passive safety – moves to lighting

Lighting is the next stage in the UK’s passive safety revolution for roads. Highways Agency guidance allowing use of passively safe signposts has already led to more of these structures improving safety on Britain’s roads – new guidance due out later this year will extend to passively safe lighting columns, advances we’re already trialling on a major interchange near Oxford.

“The lighting columns we’re trialling for the Highways Agency at the A34 Pear Tree Interchange in Oxford are not made from the usual steel but from a fibre reinforced composite material,” explains Andy Sanders, our lighting team manager. “When struck, the columns bend or break, significantly reducing the chances of serious injury to the occupants,” says Andy.

Advances in the way traffic signs are illuminated are also being made. “There is little purpose in providing a passively safe signpost if additional bulky objects, such as external lamps and their housings, or internal lamps mounted within a much thicker box structure, are still required to illuminate the sign,” explains our leading passive safety expert Andy Pledge.

“For larger signs on motorways, illumination is often achieved by mounting upward facing flood lamps on posts positioned in front of the sign. Due to the electrical equipment the posts have to contain, they are of a size not considered passively safe and are therefore hazards in themselves,” says Andy. “At the A3 near Guildford and on the M23 in Sussex we’re successfully addressing these problems with the introduction of electro-luminescent sign faces which eliminate the need for extra lighting equipment and therefore reduce the likelihood of injury to vehicle occupants in the case of a collision.”

In the case of larger signs, the use of electro-luminescence removes the need to mount separate flood lamps on large posts in front of the sign. On overhead gantries, removing the lamps can often mean doing away with cleaning and maintenance walkways, allowing for a much lighter weight gantry. “Reducing the weight of any roadside structure reduces the potential for injuries in the case of a collision and thereby increases safety on the roads,” says Andy.
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