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Trial of new road markers to warn Otago drivers of ice

28 August 2013

Trial of new road markers to warn Otago drivers of ice

Otago motorists are being warned to look out for flashing blue road markers, particularly over the next few days.

A trial of hi-tech ice-detecting road markers has being launched on certain sections of State Highways 1 and 8 in Otago as well as in parts of Dunedin, Queenstown and between Alexandra and Ranfurly.

They are being installed in locations where there has been a history of crashes caused by icy conditions and with the temperature forecast to drop to freezing in many places from tonight, they may well be in action.

The markers look like standard cat’s eye reflectors but will start flashing blue if the conditions are icy as a warning to people travelling on the road.

“Ice is one of the most dangerous hazards on the road and it can be impossible to see until it’s too late,” says AA Otago District Chairman Jeff Donaldson.

“By flashing blue, these markers will give people a potentially life-saving warning that there is ice ahead.

“The markers will give people time to slow right down and be prepared for the ice. If you hit an icy patch of road at normal speed it is almost certain that your vehicle will lose control and go into a dangerous skid.”

There were 520 crashes on icy roads in the Otago region from 2008-2012, leaving 22 people seriously injured and 153 with minor injuries. The highest risk time was 6-9am and most crashes involved a vehicle losing control on a bend.

“These markers are a world-leading technological development that should help prevent crashes.

“The key thing is that we need everyone who uses the roads in Otago to be aware of them so that if they see them flashing blue, they know there is ice ahead.”

The markers are called PATeye and have been developed by Christchurch firm Solar Bright.

They will be trialled in Otago for two-years and, depending on their results, could then be introduced in other parts of the country.

“When the weather is snowy or icy the AA’s best advice is to stay off the roads unless you have to drive.

“If you do have to drive over an icy road, drive to the conditions and slow right down.

“If your vehicle starts to skid on a patch of ice don’t brake hard. The best way to regain control is to take your foot off the accelerator, steer in the direction the car is sliding and lightly tap the brakes a couple of times if you have to.”

The full list of trials sites is:

State highway 1 - Northern Motorway Dunedin (Leith Saddle)

State highway 1- Waipori River Bridge

State highway 1 -Taieri River Bridge

State highway 8- Manuka Gorge

State highway 1- Narrowdale Intersection just north of Milton

Blacks Hill, between Ophir and the Ida Valley

North Road, North East Valley

Main South Road, Sunnyvale

Three Mile Hill Road

Kelvin Peninsula Road (4 Sites)

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