Millions are spent on their design and construction – but how safe are our roads?
Investing in road safety equipment makes roads safe and more durable. Their installation in high-risks areas near schools and hospitals, as well as residential areas, reduce the dangers associated with speeding drivers colliding with other road users and damaging properties.
What is road safety equipment?
Road safety equipment can refer to a number of different installations placed to enhance safety in the event of an emergency on the road. They offer protection in cases where a vehicle loses control and breach the street limits at high speed. Depending on the usage, a traffic safety device can be a temporary installation or a permanent barrier. Contractors working on some damaged section of a road can erect temporary removable traffic barriers to direct vehicular access. These may include plastic cones, removable plastic bollards posts, temporary road signs as well as road spikes. These are removed quickly after completing repairs.
Fixed posts for rigid protection against rail ramming vehicles are also installed permanently in the road sections known to create additional risks to other road users. Fixed bollards can reinforce public places like the storefronts, parks, walkways, communication pylons, power poles, etc. These can also be erected inside the factories and warehouses to guard against maneuvering forklifts.
Why is road safety equipment needed?
Road safety apparatus are required to protect drivers, passengers, as well as other road users in case of an accident. In the case of a steep decline, a truck may experience a braking malfunction and start rolling down the road like a runaway train. Where the road is a dual carriageway, the drivers on the other side of the lane may not be aware of such an emergency. At a sharp bend, the truck may be unable to steer the vehicle as appropriate and could drive straight to the other lane, thereby endangering the lives. A properly fabricated road divider can stop the truck from crossing over and knocking the oncoming traffic.
Similar barriers in the form of bollards can also protect a vehicle from rolling down a cliff in the case of a slippery road surface occasioned by snow and rainfall.
Fixed road bollards significantly minimise the risks of major accidents as a result of placing of permanent road barriers along strategic and high-risk sections of the highway.
There are instances where burglars use vehicles to ram into the shop fronts to gain access. These happen in secluded areas where the criminals take advantage to implement such methods. With the erection of fixed barriers, this situation cannot occur. As such, your business premises, as well as your employees and customers, are safely protected from ram-raiders.
There are other reasons why road barriers are needed. They may include the following:
- Median divider: Protection of an out-of-control-vehicle from breaching the media lane to confront the opposite traffic. For this reason, a continuous fixed road barrier is typically erected to divide the two sections of the road.
- Steep decline: Prevention of the vehicle from falling over cliffs/escarpments. The traffic rule recommends the installation of road bollards if there is a drop of more than 5 meters along the road or where the curve is greater than 4%. The bollards prevent the vehicle from rolling on the cliff in the case of a mechanical malfunction.
- Bus stations and roadside installations: When there is a bus stop, the likelihood of pedestrians crossing or idling while waiting for their transport is high. Road bollards get erected between the main road and the bus stop to offer protection. Further, roadside installations may be vulnerable to ramming. As such, bollards are installed to protect them from the speeding vehicles particularly where they are on bends or steep declines.
How useful is road safety equipment?
Pedestrians and cyclists are often the main at-risk group in case of a traffic accident. This is especially true along the road traversing high-density pedestrian population areas. These include shopping centres, residential areas and commercial areas where people tend to walk leisurely with disregard to the vehicular traffic. Installation of fixed road barriers is instrumental in reducing traffic accidents. Additionally, fixed road barriers are effective due to the following factors:
- Reliability: The fixed road bollards are designed to withstand high impacts. As such, when constructed, they can withstand the ramming of a truck and stop it before crossing over, keeping the pedestrians and other road users beyond them safe.
- Cheap. Once installed, road bollards do not require any form of maintenance except maybe routine reflective paintwork. They, despite their significant roles, therefore, cost nothing to maintain.
- Traffic calming: Bollards are well known to direct traffic to a particular direction. When erected, vehicles do not cross over them in the case of a traffic snarl-up to put at risk the other road users. As such, they act as a formal containment of traffic into the designated lanes even without the presence of traffic officers.
What options are available?
There are various forms of traffic bollards to be selected from, depending on the usage and location. They fall into the following broad classes.
- Fixed posts: These are intended for heavy-duty, high-speed protection throughout. They get constructed near schools, shopping malls, parking lots and other areas with high pedestrian traffic. They offer the most trusted protection against traffic accidents.
- Temporary barriers: These are used for an occasion like road shows, parades, and traffic diversions. They are erected for a short time and then removed once the temporary nature of their use is complete.
- Collapsible vehicle barrier: This is used for traffic direction as well as ramming safe-guard. These get installed in a high-security installation such as the buildings gates, marinas, etc. They can be lowered to prevent vehicles from gaining forced entry and also raised to allow pre-cleared traffic movement.
Whatever the reason for the road safely, assessing and continuously improving on the road barrier can go a long way in protecting the most valuable asset of all – lives.