Five weird road safety solutions

Carlton Boyce / 15 June 2016 ( 26 April 2018 )

Could sheep be used as mobile road signs? Would removing white lines make drivers more cautious? We look at some usual road safety measures and solutions.

The recent announcement that some councils are planning to remove white lines from the road surface in a bid to make them safer might sound counterintuitive, but there are precedents that suggest that it might just work.

We’ve taken a look at the theory behind the idea and have taken a glimpse of some other, even more radical, road safety ideas from around the world!

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1. Shared space

The theory behind the removal of white lines from our roads is rooted in the ‘Shared Space’ theory. This suggests that when boundaries are unclear, drivers and other road users are more cautious when passing through them. As a result, proponents claim, road traffic collisions and personal injuries drop.

The results probably bear them out. In Croydon, for example, the removal of white lines as a temporary trial showed a decrease in speed of up to 13%, while studies in Holland that encouraged motorists and pedestrians to share the same space showed significant decreases in both traffic speed and accidents.

However, experts warn that simply removing white lines and other traffic guidance signage may not be the universal panacea that some claim, pointing out that the schemes work best in areas where traffic speed is already low, which is not something that can be said of the stretch of North Norfolk road that is at the heart of this news story.

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2. Sheep with safety messages painted on them

The road safety organisation Think! has produced a video using sheep as mobile road signs to warn of the dangers of driving along country roads.

The actual scheme was a publicity stunt but it did succeed in raising awareness of how dangerous these roads can be.

Read our tips for tackling country roads

3. Kenyan bus drivers

The Kenyan government was worried about the number of bus passengers being killed and injured every year on its roads, so in 2006 it introduced a number of measures aimed at cutting the toll.

The measures were simple; alongside better training and registration, they included the wearing of uniforms and name badges by drivers and conductors, while drivers also had to display their photograph prominently for passengers to see. The results were astonishing, with the number of accidents falling by 73% in the first six months. 

While driver training untouchably helped, personal accountability is known to be a strong motivator too and probably helped achieve such a dramatic fall.

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4. No traffic lights

The German town of Bohmte removed all of its traffic lights and road signs in an experiment to cut the number of accidents. 

Before the experiment they were seeing at least one serious accident a week, with scores of smaller, more minor collisions.

In the four weeks following the start of the trail there wasn’t a single accident, something that was put down to a “sea-change in drivers’ attitudes.”

5. Speed bump holograms

Looking like nothing so much as a ghostly apparition, Canadian road safety authorities have painted 2D pictures of children on the surface of the road that give the illusion of a child playing.

The images have been carefully designed to remain a blur until the driver reaches a pre-set distance, at which point they come into focus sharply and the faster the car is driving, the more quickly this happens. It was just a trial and you can judge how effective you think it is here.

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