Lights go out on solar-powered road aids

EXCLUSIVEBy Ted JeorySPECIAL glow-in-the-dark Catseyes installed on the A12 at a cost of £30 each have had to be replaced for safety reasons, it has emerged.


By Ted Jeory

SPECIAL glow-in-the-dark Catseyes installed on the A12 at a cost of £30 each have had to be replaced for safety reasons, it has emerged.

The solar-powered studs were installed on a three-mile stretch of the A12 near Witham during major repair works less than a year ago.

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It was felt the addition of longer-lasting Catseyes, which remained illuminated day and night and in all weather conditions, would “drastically” reduce the risk of accidents.

About £36,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on the 1,222 self-shining studs, which were meant to mark a revolutionary step forward for road safety by increasing visibility and reducing the need for drivers to use their headlight main beams.

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But a routine inspection by Highways Agency staff has revealed some of the glass bulbs in the Catseyes had come loose from their mountings, with some spotted lying dangerously on the road.

Transport bosses ordered the urgent replacement of the Catseyes, with motorists now aided solely by standard-issue bulbs that only illuminate in the glare of headlamps.

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the replacement work had been paid for by the original contractors.

“The taxpayer will not face any extra burden because of this,” she added. “We are in discussions with the supplier to find out if there was a design flaw or whether they have had similar problems with their product elsewhere.

“Until then, the ordinary Catseyes will remain in place, but this does not mean there has been a reduction in safety on that particular stretch of road.”

Sandy Callander, sales and marketing director of Astucia (UK) Ltd, which supplied the Government-approved hi-tech bulbs, said: “We were made aware of a particular problem in Essex and decided to replace them immediately until discussions with the Highways Agency are resolved.

“Our products drastically reduces accident risk and they are used in over 200 sites elsewhere in the UK, but we have not come across this problem to this degree before.

“One possible solution is to supply the Highways Agency a new product that is about to get Department for Transport approval and that is even better and longer lasting.”

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