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Smart cat's eyes trialled at dangerous junction

Switch island cropped

Smart cat’s eyes which light up as traffic lights change are being trialled by Highways England at a troublesome motorway junction in an effort to stop traffic collisions.

Highways England is testing 170 of the intelligent LED cat’s eyes at Switch Island in Merseyside, a junction serving 90,000 vehicles each day where the M57, M58 and three A roads meet. The cat’s eyes form part of a £3M upgrade programme to improve safety at the junction.

Cables under the road surface connect the cat’s eyes, which can be seen at least 1,000m away, to traffic lights. When the lights turn green, the LED studs light up to help stop drivers drifting across lanes.

Intelligent cat's eye

Intelligent cat’s eye

Source: Highways England

Intelligent cat’s eye tested at Switch Island junction

“We’re always looking for new ways to further improve journeys and safety for drivers, and I hope the new intelligent cat’s eyes will help better guide drivers around Switch Island,” said Highways England project manager Phil Tyrrell.

The LED studs have already been trialled at Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey but this is the first time Highways England has linked the intelligent cat’s eyes to motorway traffic lights.

Construction at the Switch Island junction, which has seen 49 collisions in the last two years, will start on 5 February and take a year. Other safety features will also be installed at the notorious junction, such as new barriers between carriageways and clearer lane markings.

New traffic lights will be installed at a higher level than buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) so that queuing traffic can see clearly. Funding for the scheme comes from Highways England’s £220M congestion relief programme, finishing in 2020.

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