Are they safer, or distracting?
Here in the US, we don’t get very many motorcycle-specific road signs. There’s a company in the United Kingdom, however, which is creating road signs just for us. They’re quite a lot like the “YOUR SPEED IS” signs you might see around the well-traveled roads in your neighborhood but they have pictures of bikes on them. They emit radar to detect oncoming vehicles, at which point the signs will light up to spell out “BACK OFF.”
Motorcycles are a major form of transport in the UK: lane-splitting is legal and they’re often the fastest and most efficient way to get into city centers through traffic. Motorcyclist fatalities have increased year over year there, and this could be one way to combat that dire statistic. The UK Department of Transport studies determined that in a significant portion of the crashes recorded, inadequate signage was the main culprit.
We’ve all been there, riding along and having fun at a not-insignificant clip, noting all of the signed turns in the road, when we come upon one that wasn’t signed. Do we ride well enough to read the road without the signage? Some of us do, and some of us take an unplanned off-road excursion.
TWM Traffic Control Systems, the company creating these light-up radar-activated road signs, is encouraging local British authorities to post them at known high motorcycle crash hotspots. Hopefully, these flashing signs will snap a rider out of their high-speed reverie and make them take notice of the approaching curve or intersection. The signs combine the well-known (in the UK) “THINK” motorcycle image with LEDs that will light up when a motorcycle (or other motorist) approaches at a speed greater than the predetermined “safe” speed for the upcoming hazard.
TWM’s company director Kevin Marshall says “the new statistics from the Department of Transport are an uneasy read, especially the fact that 228 accidents could have been avoided with clearer and more striking signage to alert motorcyclists. We have a passion for developing equipment that brings enhanced road safety to both drivers and pedestrians. The new hazard warning sign was designed with the safety of motorcyclists in mind, and we hope that local authorities across the UK review the signage at their known accident hotspots, especially as we head into the darker and wetter winter months.”
If these warnings are accepted and integrated into the UK road signage system, and prove to be effective at reducing crashes, certain states in the US should certainly take note and employ something similar. Each of us could certainly come up with a handful of intersections or a stretch roads that could benefit from this signage.