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Plastic Providing Safer Driving Conditions

Road studs reflectors make for safer driving at night

Worse than driving on a dark, winding road late at night is driving on a dark, winding road late at night… in the middle of a blinding thunderstorm. With rain pounding down on the windshield, it can be difficult to keep any vehicle within the lines.

Lighting the path to safety

Plastic intelligent road studs may be part of the answer. These road studs are rugged polycarbonate discs that can help light a road, at ground level, to help drivers move in the right direction.

Sitting only a quarter inch off the road, these plastic traffic devices can be visible by as much as 1000 feet away and can enhance road safety. The devices are approximately 4.75 inches in diameter, equipped with 10 high intensity light-emitting diodes, and can be powered by electricity through a polyethylene cable buried in the asphalt. There are reports that these plastic devices are relatively easy to install, and can be extremely durable.

They are intended to help in:

  • Tunnels-by providing guidance to drivers in narrow spaces or improving visibility in the aftermath of an accident

  • Complex traffic situations-by helping to show drivers when and where to go

  • Crosswalks-by clearly identifying crossing areas to approaching drivers

  • Dangerous driving conditions-by helping to keep drivers within the lines

  • Airports-by guiding pilots from the taxi-way to their correct docking gates

The future is bright

Research is being done in New Zealand, by Harding Traffic Systems and the University of Auckland, to develop road studs that can be remotely changed to a different color or intensity of light.

The technology could be used to:

  • Shift traffic flows at certain times of the day

  • Warn drivers of ice on the road or an accident just ahead

  • Help set the speed limit on particular roads

  • Signal an exit from a tunnel in an emergency situation

  • Communicate with drivers in the event of an evacuation
    Endless possibilities

While plastic is helping humans to stay on the road, it is also helping baby turtles in Florida to stay off the road.

  • Problem: Recently-hatched baby turtles will instinctively walk in the direction of the brightest horizon, which would normally be the moonlit ocean. However, on a three-quarter mile stretch of highway A1A in Florida, the bright street lamps located just beyond their natural habitat were attracting the turtles toward traffic.

  • Solution: Plastic intelligent road studs were installed in the center of the road and the street lamps were temporarily removed (during nesting season).

Fueling Innovation
From highway safety to wildlife protection, some innovative plastic products are helping to keep living things out of harm's way. In fact, many of the safety devices we depend on today wouldn't be as readily available without plastics. A world of opportunity still lies ahead. Now and in the future, plastic will continue to help good ideas become great products.

(Source: American Plastics Council)