Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Road Haulage - Freight Trucks Need To See And Be Seen

Reflections on the Need For Night Time Visibility
Shipping News Feature

UK – US – Two stories today about improving road safety through increased visibility, one on trucks and one on the roadway itself. In the UK the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has published a guide for all haulage operators regarding the new regulations designed to ensure large commercial vehicles can be clearly seen at night.

From the 10th July this year all new heavy goods vehicles and their trailers must bear markings in a suitable reflective material which clearly frames the outline of the truck at night when struck by the headlight beams of a following vehicle. These ‘conspicuity’ marking regulations require a full contour marking on the vehicle’s rear, ie horizontal and vertical markings to outline the shape of the vehicle, and partial contour markings on the side. Partial contour markings consist of a horizontal line showing the length of the vehicle and ‘tick’ marks showing the upper corners of the vehicle.

The FTA guide has been endorsed by the Department for Transport and will be issued to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) for their own guidance and procedures and can be downloaded HERE.

Meanwhile over the water, an engineer from New York’s Thruway Authority’s Highway Design Bureau became concerned whilst towing another vehicle during a rainstorm that the road stripes designed to aid visibility and indicate the centre and edges of the highway simply disappeared in the poor conditions.

Over ten years passed before Steve Velicky saw his concerns that night overcome by a new programme which he had a hand in bringing to fruition. Extensive tests came up with a suitable solution which, in theory, operates like a sort of mini ‘cat’s eye’ strip.

The local roads take a pummelling from the weather, hot drying summers and extreme abrasion from snow ploughs in the winter mean any road markings have to be durable to say the least. By caving shallow grooves around a 1/10 inch deep, a special reflective compound containing ‘wet reflective’ ceramic material and tiny glass beads contained in epoxy paint can be inserted providing a coating that, unlike ordinary road paint, reflects light back even when wet.

Test show the stripes are twice as visible as previously and because the grooves can be re-coated when worn the paint life will exceed the anticipated life of the road surface itself. As the technique and materials, called ‘recessed triple drop’, were developed by an arm of local government it is freely available to anyone unlike a privately patented system.

Photo:- Interstate 87 meets the New York State Thruway.