NZ icy road warning invention going global
NZ icy road warning system goes global
A New Zealand invention designed to help reduce the winter road toll could be rolled out across the world, after successful trials in the South Island.
Solar Bright's world-first icy road warning system, which uses solar-powered markers that flash blue when conditions are icy to warn motorists to slow down and drive with caution, are fast picking up interest from international governments.
It follows a trial period in the South Island which saw 800 of the markers installed on State Highway 1 and SH8 around Dunedin and Central Otago.
After installing the markers, 82 per cent of traffic slowed down when they were flashing, Solar Bright managing director Nicola Martin said.
Questionnaire respondents said they supported the markers and wanted to see more blue markers in ice prone areas, she said.
The markers are described as a "world-leading development", and are attracting interest from all over the world. Solar Bright already holds patents and trademarks for the blue markers in 96 countries.
"We have had a lot of serious interest from other New Zealand cities and regions, insurance companies, St John [Ambulance], police, shopping malls, airports, councils, companies, blue chip companies, hospitals, fire departments and companies around New Zealand," Ms Martin said.
"We are trailing with Tasmania Government on their roads and also talking to people in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan.
"We soon hope to introduce a smart intelligent marker with telemetry capabilities, able to count, read traffic, monitor carbon dioxide emissions and light levels which will become invaluable for roading maintenance, police, Government and transport statisticians."
The blue markers would help the economy by reducing Government spending on hospital bills, she said.
"Road accidents in New Zealand are enormously costly and we are sure we have reduced the accident rate as we have overwhelming evidence that the markers slowed drivers down in black ice conditions and we have no doubt saved lives."
It comes as this year's road toll looks set to exceed 2014's. Figures released yesterday showed 27 more people had lost their lives in 2015 compared to the same time last year.
Ministry of Transport data showed 198 people were killed in crashes on New Zealand roads in the year to date, up from 171 at the same time in 2014.
National road policing manager, Superintendent Steven Greally, said the figure was "really disturbing", and urged drivers to make better decisions when behind the wheel.
The majority of fatal crashes were caused by "completely preventable" factors, he said - such as driving drunk, using mobile phones while driving, speeding, not wearing seatbelts, and not driving to the conditions.