DYNAMIC ROAD SIGNS COULD REDUCE ROAD DEATHS

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A recent US report has revealed that a pedestrian loses their life every two hours on American roads.  Back home, and according to Arrive Alive, approximately 35-40% of road deaths in South Africa are pedestrian deaths. 

“An unlikely solution could be as simple as a matter of good graphic design,” says Warwick Scott-Rodger, Head of Dialdirect.  “A new international study suggests that it may be possible to reduce road-related pedestrian accidents - and possible vehicular collisions as well - by replacing static-looking stick figures with more active-looking, dynamic representations of people- notably, children.”

According to Dr. Ryan Elder, a professor of marketing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the signs work as follows: If the figures look like they’re walking, then your brain doesn’t worry about them shooting out into the road, but if they’re running, then you can imagine them being in front of your car in a hurry. Our minds want to continue the motion that is contained within an image—and that has important consequences.

Researchers used driving simulators and eye-tracking technology to gauge how fast motorists reacted to various road signs. They showed that motorists react an average of 50 milliseconds faster to signs that invoked sudden movement, than to the more typical still figures currently populating road signs.

50 Milliseconds might not sound like much, but it works out to a 1.3 meter reduction in the stopping distance of a car moving at almost 100km/ hour. The study also proved that with the more dynamically designed signs, the reduction in stopping distance would be greater in cars moving at faster speeds.

“Even at lower speeds, this improved stopping distance could prove life-saving however, until these improved road signs become the norm, drivers should be encouraged to look around and pay attention to the signs they pass. It’s too easy to become complacent, especially when you drive the same route every day,” says Scott-Rodger.

Dialdirect provides some easy ways you can make the most of the signs already on South African roads:

  • Be especially careful around pedestrian crossings and school crossings.
  • Pay attention to road signs in suburban areas, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • Watch out for road works, or temporary speed reduction signs on familiar routes.
  • Keep an eye on lane separation signs. Realising you’re in the wrong lane at the last minute is dangerous for you and other drivers.
  • If you do find yourself in the wrong lane, commit to it until you find a safe place to turn around.
  • Report broken, missing and defaced road signs to the Johannesburg Road Agency on 011 298 5000.
  • Make sure that your car insurance policy has adequate insurance cover, in the event that you are liable for any damage during an accident.


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