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UK Highways Agency Introduces Flexible Plastic Motorway Signs

21 March 2005

The Highways Agency is working to make its roads even safer with the introduction of new fibre reinforced polymer motorway signs.

The Agency said its large roadside signs are essential for providing people with journey and road condition information. However, a collision with a road sign can cause serious injury to drivers and their passengers as well as significant damage to vehicles.

Although the signs are usually protected by safety fences the Highways Agency has been investigating how to lessen the impact on people and vehicles when there is a collision. A new style of sign, which bends or breaks when it is hit, is being introduced across the Agency's network of motorways and trunk roads.

Known as Passive Safe Signposts the new additions have been extensively safety tested at high and low speeds and the results showed they caused less damage to vehicles than safety barriers and help protect passengers from serious injuries.

The FRP patented posts were produced by a company in Sweden, complying to the strict EU standards, EN 12767:2000. The company, Jerol Industri AB, have produced the poles applying the results of a number of studies and a total of 36 crash tests to develop the impact absorbing pole. Production is totally computer controlled which ensures that the poles in each series are identical and quality-assured.

The pole consists of two layers, an inner fibre composite and an outer layer of tough polyolefin. The normal strain on the poles is handled by the fibre composite while the polyolefin provides the weather-resistance characteristics. The Jerol pole is entirely recyclable, UV resistant and has a service life estimated to exceed 60 years.

Ginny Clarke, Highways Agency's director of safety standards and research directorate, said: ""The Highways Agency is committed to providing safer roads and more reliable journeys. Recent tests show new Passively Safe Posts are a safer signpost that causes less damage to vehicles and their passengers on impact. The signs are being increasingly used nationally as a replacement when damage occurs to existing ones.

""Passively Safe Signposts are being encouraged as the preferred choice for a replacement sign We are currently looking at extending this initiative and looking to use passively safe lighting columns and traffic signals as well the signposts.""

All the FRP products have been crash tested and are in accordance with BS EN 12767.