Safety first at Sheriffhall

The introduction of intelligent road studs at one of Edinburgh's busiest roundabouts could be the key to changing driving behaviour for the better.

They are only a few inches in diameter, and can be either solar powered or hardwired and driven from the mains.

However, one researcher is examining whether intelligent road studs could be the key to changing driving behaviour in Scotland for the better.

Evidence suggests that their introduction at the busy Sheriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass has cut the accident toll by encouraging motorists to remain within their lanes.

Now a variation of the same technology is being applied to boost drivers’ confidence as they approach T junctions on rural stretches of the A1 in Berwickshire, which is shrouded in darkness for much of the year.

Dr Richard Llewellyn, of Edinburgh Napier’s Transport Research Institute, said: “The installation of the studs at Sheriffhall has had a positive impact, even during daylight hours. There has been a reduction in lane transgression across nearly all vehicle types, and a significant reduction in collision risk at the roundabout.”

He added: “The work on the A1 is ongoing, but one of the things I am looking at is whether the studs have opened up more journey opportunities by increasing motorists’ confidence about driving on a road which has been perceived by users as dangerous.”

The project at the six-arm Sheriffhall roundabout, which has more than 40,000 vehicles a day threading their way through its spiral markings, has scooped a string of national awards.

The university, working with project partners Transport Scotland, Clearview Intelligence, BEAR Scotland and Amey Highways, monitored a system which saw embedded studs illuminate in sync with traffic lights and guide drivers into the appropriate lane when the signal turned green. As the signal turned red, all the studs on that section switched off.

Video cameras were installed in four places at the busy junction so drivers’ behaviour could be studied. They showed that the studs, installed during winter 2015, reinforced lane discipline and reduced collisions by guiding motorists all the way around the roundabout in their clearly defined lanes.

Richard said: “There was a high degree of anecdotal evidence to suggest that drivers felt more comfortable driving through the roundabout, and positive comments were also received from Police Scotland.”

Safety studs in action

The work on the A1 in Berwickshire has involved installing solar powered LED road studs to highlight nine key junctions and turning areas between the village of Grantshouse and the Border, a stretch which is mostly single carriageway.

Motorists had reported difficulty seeing some junctions after dark. However, the LED studs, installed in the winter of 2015/16, can be seen from 700 metres away, almost seven times the range of traditional cats eyes.

Another problem faced by motorists is that, when making a right turn, darkness robs them of reference points like trees and road signs to gauge the speed of oncoming traffic, leaving them looking only at a pair of headlights.

Data has been gathered from new video recordings of drivers manoeuvring at junctions and this will be analysed along with radar gun spot speed surveys to build up a picture of motorists’ behaviour in the area.

A questionnaire-based survey is also being sent to 10,000 homes near the A1 with the aim of gauging drivers’ awareness of the new studs and their attitude to them.

Reflecting on the research completed so far, Richard said: “It has been a real privilege to investigate a measure with such an immediate and important impact on the transport network, and with great potential for wider implementation. I’m extremely thankful to our industry partners and look forward to building on the work with them over the next few years.”

Watch: How the Sheriffhall project came together