An innovative use of an intelligent warning sign provided by TWM Traffic Control Systems has been the catalyst for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and TWM winning the Road safety Scheme of the Year at this year’s Highways Awards.
The system, which warns of turning vehicles at a blind bend / junction before they become visible to the driver, was complemented by interactive chevron signs and other localised highway improvements.
The council wanted to address ongoing safety concerns including a cluster of turning collisions at a blind junction/bend which needed an innovative solution.
Oakham Road has seen a dramatic reduction in injury collisions because of the scheme. There were 14 recorded injury collisions in the 5 years before the intervention and this cluster has been eliminated with no recorded injury collisions in the 12 months since the work was completed. The work was funded through Dudley Council’s annual local safety scheme programme and supports the Council’s plan to make Dudley a safe and healthy borough.
This is the second award for the Oakham Road Local Safety Scheme, following a win at the Mercia IHE Award for Safety and Innovation in April.
Oakham Road is a local distributor on the outskirts of Dudley Town Centre. Local ward councillors and residents had requested traffic calming measures on several occasions. The route had been treated before but as the road is a classified road, these were limited to low-cost measures, such as road markings, high-friction surfacing and warning signs / speed signs.
Collisions continued to occur with 14 collisions in a 5-year period (2014-2018), including 1 fatal, 2 serious and a cluster of 6 collisions at a blind junction near a bend. There were also several damage-only collisions at this junction which made the local press.
Vertical traffic calming was not an option as the route is a classified road, bus route and gritting route in a hilly area. Limited road width was also a design restriction. Therefore, an alternative solution had to be found.
Given the position of the staggered junction (after a tight bend), drivers needed advanced warning of the hazard ahead of the bend. This involved a 750mm vehicle-activated triangle warning sign with flashing ambers on each corner and dual text display below. To keep sign clutter to a minimum, TWM’s sign included an integrated staggered junction sign (diagram 507) and in-built radar. This links with above ground radar technology at the blind junction. Wireless communication was used to enable the solution to function effectively.
The sign is activated by a car waiting at the blind junction and warns drivers on the main road of ‘TURNING VEHICLES’ around the bend. At all other times, the sign is activated by excessive speed with a ‘SLOW DOWN’ message. The key element was the warning of a specific hazard at the appropriate time.
The Intelligent sign was complemented by a pair of TWM’s interactive chevrons on the bend which activate when vehicles approach over 33mph. All TWM signs are designed and made in the UK, which was an important deciding factor for Dudley Council and LED technology ensures low running costs and significant longevity.
To complement the signing innovations, localised kerb realignment at junctions and bus-stops reduced the perceived road width and improved visibility. Finally, dialogue with frontages near the blind junction took place to emphasise the importance of keeping vegetation trimmed back to retain visibility.
Councillor Shaz Saleem, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for highways and public realm commented: “The location presented a number of problems to overcome, and TWM worked with Dudley Council to provide this innovative solution. Vehicle activated signs are well established, but this is a great example of the next step in ‘intelligent’ signs. Signs that don’t just activate with speed but can warn drivers of more than one hazard at the appropriate time. The integrated sign face also eliminates the need for separate warning signs, reducing street clutter. We look forward to seeing the benefits that this solution will bring to Dudley’s roads, and to working with TWM again in the future”
Chris Rayner Sales and Marketing Director at TWM, added: “We were pleased to work alongside Dudley Council to deliver the new signage notifying drivers of a potential hazard after a bend in the road. We hope that by installing this LED vehicle activated signage we have created a safer environment for road users and pedestrians, calming traffic and slowing down speeding vehicles.”