Last week I was lucky enough to attend the annual Traffic Management Associations conference on the Gold Coast. It was a great opportunity to meet and discuss the trials and troubles being felt on the ground by traffic management companies from all around Australia.
It was an opportunity to explore the question 'what shits you at the moment?'.
However, all the responses were very similar. Not just similar to each other, but similar to last year and a seemingly constant battle for practitioners everywhere. Essentially - motorist compliance, particularly when it comes to temporarily reduced speed zones sucks! This in turn introduces risk outside of the controls implemented on site and when something goes wrong, the scale of wrongness (?) slides quickly to one end of the spectrum...
Research. Research. Research.
So much of it happens every day. Devices and processes designed for specific implementations tend not to bleed into applications right alongside their initial intent. It blows my mind. For many years now trials
have been run the world over to assess the efficacy of LED conspicuity devices for use in variable speed zones (think schools) or for advanced warning purposes (think wig-wags on a signal pictorial for a hidden intersection). We have these mechanisms in place for permanent installations and they drive measurable, significant improvement to motorist compliance and safety - So why doesn't the TTM world have similar devices available to them for their works? Why is there no push from industry or road authority to facilitate their use?
We don't know.
In case you've not been introduced yet - here is a distillation of the research:
The mass research into the effectiveness of flashing red annulus on a temporary speed zone around schools has been documented no end - so this is the focus of this post. The evidence from successful trials of this technology in school zones in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States clearly demonstrates its effectiveness in catching the attention of drivers and reducing vehicle speeds. This, in turn, leads to increased compliance with reduced speed limits and improved road safety for all road users.
In the trials conducted in Australia, the addition of flashing LED annulus to traditional static speed signs resulted in a reduction in overall average vehicle speed of up to 15%. More importantly, the overall reduction in motorists driving through at over 40 kph was reduced by 45%! This was particularly evident during times of heavy traffic, when the flashing LED annulus was most effective in catching the attention of drivers.
In the trials conducted in Canada and the US the outcomes largely mirror those seen on Australian roads, even with the significant variability of driver behaviour between countries. se of flashing LED annulus in construction zones led to a reduction in vehicle speeds of up to 15%. The trial also found that the flashing LED annulus was effective in catching the attention of drivers, leading to increased compliance with the reduced speed limit.
These results are consistent with the findings of the trial conducted in the United Kingdom by Highways England, which found that the use of flashing LED annulus led to a reduction in vehicle speeds of up to 10%.
The successful trial outcomes in various jurisdictions around the world support the argument for the widespread adoption of such devices for temporary traffic management applications on short terms works. The benefits of this technology include increased road safety for all road users, improved compliance with reduced speed limits, and reduced speeds in construction zones and temporary reduced speed areas. The adoption of this technology has the potential to significantly improve the safety of road workers and all road users in these areas, making our roads safer for everyone.
It's clear that LED speed signs with flashing red annulus have the potential to significantly improve road safety in temporary reduced speed areas through driving higher levels of motorist speed compliance. The trials conducted in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have demonstrated that this technology is effective in reducing vehicle speeds and increasing compliance with reduced speed limits.
However, despite the positive outcomes of these trials, the adoption of LED speed signs with flashing red annulus is still limited in the TTM space around the world.
As an industry, we must ask ourselves why we aren't looking to adopt this technology in a more systemic way. Should road authorities playing a role in pushing for the expansion of the success of such trials into other related applications? Or is it up to individual companies to take the leap first and drag the regulators along?
It's clear that we need to take a proactive approach to improving road safety. The evidence from these trials provides a clear opportunity for us to create a solution that can be adopted across the TTM space in Australia.
The question is, will we take advantage of this opportunity?
As safety professionals, it's our responsibility to advocate for the adoption of proven road safety technologies, even from outside the sphere of our immediate interest. It's up to us to work with road authorities and other stakeholders to create a safer road environment for everyone. By embracing the benefits of proven solutions from elsewhere, we can make a real difference to road safety in Australia.
Let's take action now to ensure that our roads are safer for everyone.