Bendy posts to save lives

Padded lampposts and signs that collapse if they are hit will be replacing an estimated 225,000 road signs in Scotland in a new safety scheme that will cost £3.5m a year.

May 18, 2006
By David Howell

Padded lampposts and signs that collapse if they are hit will be replacing an estimated 225,000 road signs in Scotland in a new safety scheme that will cost £3.5m a year.

The latest figures from the Department for Transport show that in 2004, 277 road users were involved in a road accident that involved a road sign or lamppost, leading to 47 serious injuries and four fatalities.

The new signs look the same as those already in use, but are designed to collapse and even completely come away from their foundations if they are hit. Some signs will also be getting what are known as ‘impact cushions.’ As their name suggests, these additions will give the vehicle less of a direct impact if it hits a post with the cushions in place.

Initially these new measures will be installed on new roads, but Scotland’s highways agency will survey other roads and look for blackspots where these measures could help reduce serious injury or death when a road accident occurs. Typically, each of the new lampposts will cost £1,500, with a collapsible sign on average 15 per cent more.

Alan Nicholas, the sales director of Signpost Solutions, which markets Lattix, a Norwegian-designed brand of collapsible sign, said: “The key thing about these new structures is that they absorb energy. They will bend or buckle, rather than the vehicle, and the people having to take the impact. A traditional structure will remain solid and transfer the energy of the impact to the vehicle and to the people inside, which increases the risk to them.”

Inspector Andy Clark, of the Lothian and Borders Police road policing branch, welcomed the new style of signs. He said: “Anything like this would be very welcome and it’s especially an issue for motorcyclists’ safety.”

A spokesman for Transport Scotland, which will be funding the new signs said: “Over many years, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Executive have concentrated road safety efforts on the identification and elimination of accident cluster sites. This has proven to be very successful, so much so that we have already achieved a 37 per cent reduction in all fatal and injury accidents, in comparison with the 40 per cent reduction by 2010 set out by the UK government in 2000.

“The focus is turning now to the need to identify and resolve accidents that happen on a more random basis. Amongst other strategies, this has caused us to examine how we might address run-off incidents which result in collision with roadside objects.”

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