Road safety to be improved with ‘intelligent cat’s eyes’

Road safety to be improved with ‘intelligent cat’s eyes’

Highways England has decided to begin installing 170 of the innovative new LED cat’s eyes at one of the busiest motorway junctions in the country, which is driven on by over 90,000 vehicles each day.

The LED intelligent cat’s eyes are being introduced as part of a £3million project to improve safety at Switch Island in Merseyside, Liverpool, where the M57, M58 and 3 A roads all join together, making it a chaotic junction at the best of times.

The LED cat’s eyes will be synced with traffic lights on the junction so when the lights turn green, the cat’s eyes will light up and provide guidance for drivers so that they can follow their lane with ease and reduce the risk of accidents happening. Cables under the road will connect the traffic lights to a nearby automatic controller unit.

The studs can be visible up to 1,000 metres away – far greater than traditional reflective cat’s eyes – and have been proven to help stop drivers drifting between lanes, reducing the risk of collisions.

The innovative new design has already been introduced at Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey to guide drivers through the tunnel but the Switch Island scheme will be the first time they have been linked with traffic lights at a busy motorway junction.

Phil Tyrrell, Project Manager at Highways England, said:

“We’re always looking for new ways to further improve journeys and safety for drivers, and I hope the new intelligent cat’s eyes will help better guide drivers around Switch Island.

“The innovative light-up road studs along with the other improvements we’re introducing will make it much easier to navigate the junction, benefitting the tens of thousands of drivers who travel through it every day.”

Construction work on the Switch Island scheme, which is being funded by the government’s £220 million congestion relief programme, is due to start on Monday 5 February and is expected to take around a year to complete.

The scheme is designed to improve the flow of traffic and enhance safety, following 49 collisions at the junction in the past two years – an average of one every fortnight. New traffic lights will be installed at a height of over 5 metres – higher than HGVs and double-decker buses – so that drivers approaching the junction can clearly see when the lights are changing.

Other improvements will include changes to the road layout and lane markings, new barriers between carriageways, coloured high friction surfaces and better signs. And a new 400 metre shared cycle path will be created through the junction, which will link up with the existing cycle path alongside the A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road.