/ Motoring

The state of our roads – what’s happening to Catseyes?

Road studs, Wales

Driving on the motorway in the dark can be a hair-raising experience. Not because of other drivers, but because of a lack of working Catseyes (also called road studs). Have you spotted any failed reflective road studs?

When the weather conditions are tough – which, let’s face it, isn’t uncommon, even today there are warnings out for freezing fog – and you’re driving on a motorway at night, you rely on road studs to help keep you safe.

Night-time driving

A recent night time drive I had coming back from visiting family was really frightening. The road studs on a section of the motorway weren’t working.

Without the guidance from the reflective road studs, we struggled to see our lane in the dark during pouring rain. We cut our speed to match the conditions, but just didn’t feel safe.

Maybe we just happened to be unlucky and the road studs had recently failed. Or no one has bothered to report the problem.

But this was a major motorway that sees a lot of traffic, and I’d like to think that at least one person would have taken the time to report it.

Failed road studs

Asking around friends, family and colleagues, it seems this isn’t an uncommon experience.

Lots of people told me about their experience of being really scared, trying to peer through thick fog or driving rain, knowing that all it takes is one small mistake from either yourself or another driver and there will be a car accident.

Motorway driving is tricky enough, putting up with other drivers who insist on tailgating, random lane changing and not paying attention to their blind spots, without being unable to see the road. Even if your car is packed with the latest car safety features.

Reporting road problems

Finding who to report the problem to isn’t entirely straightforward, though I do now know more than I should about feline optical conditions.

In case you come across any failed road studs yourself, it will either fall under the jurisdiction of the relevant Highways Agency or the local council’s website.

Have you had a problem with road studs? Which road was it on? Did you report it and, if so, was it ever repaired?

Comments
Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

This hasn’t been a problem for me, though all road markings seem to disappear in thick fog and then one can only drive with great caution and hope no one rams from behind. A small stretch of one motorway was, briefly, supplied with solar, self-illuminating cats eyes. These were brilliant in every sense, but they gradually disappeared and were never replaced. A cats eyes patent gave the inventor a penny for each one made, and I believe they are one of the most useful road aids ever invented. Any missing sections should be replaced as a matter of course and we shouldn’t have to report this problem.

Member
Geoff Sheddick says:
25 January 2017

IMHO, fully functioning Cats’ Eyes transform night time and bad weather driving safety. Sadly, all too often, they do not seem to be replaced unless the road is re-surfaced, irrespective of whether or not the Cats’ Eyes themselves have lost much of their reflective capability, or have failed altogether.
The next best thing is of course regularly re-painted centre-line, lane, and road edge white lines, but the maintenance [aka repainting] of these on non-motorway roads is abysmal in Buckinghamshire – often not done until long after they have become virtually invisible even in daylight!
I have indeed tried reporting such worn away white lines to BCCHighways on a dangerous T junction, but it was many months before they were re-painted, and that appeared to be as a result of other road repairs.

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Miles Stapleton says:
25 January 2017

Just one way that the cuts are destroying peoples’ lives.

Profile photo of BrianPull
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A sadly uniformed political sound-bite worthy only of a third grade politician at PMQs…
1. Is there a general problem with missing reflectors – some respondents stated that there isn’t.
2. Are any missing reflectors really due to ‘cuts’ or perhaps just the lack of reporting?
3. ‘Destroying people’s lives’? Is there evidence of fatal accidents caused by lack of reflectors?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Cats eyes do make driving at night on an unlit road much more comfortable. Whether the lack of them has led to accidents should not be the only criterion; making the driving task less stressful is a good enough reason as far as I can see, particularly in tricky bits of road.

However, would we rather have cats eyes replaced, or potholes repaired? Or more money put into social care to release hospital beds? Personally I rather see extra money raised locally that was ringfenced for specific important jobs. A local income tax or a sales tax would be my contenders. We have to pay for what we need.

Member
Scottie says:
31 January 2017

Try driving abroad in pouring rain when the reflective line markings are washed out and are difficult to see!

Profile photo of wavechange
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I have seen plenty of defective cat’s eyes but usually there are enough still working for safety. I guess it depends on how diligent the local council is. I am more concerned that many country roads lack a white line to show the nearside edge of the carriageway, often because it has not been reinstated after repairs.

We can thank Percy Shaw of Halifax for giving us the original glass cat’s eyes with their clever self-wiping mechanism, even though these have largely been replaced by modern reflective plastic versions.

Member
Ian Hill says:
28 January 2017

The original cats’ eyes moved: every time a vehicle ran over it, it swabbed the eyes, and so wore out. Did Percy get another penny? Now the plastic ones are fixed, and I hope they will continue to work and keep clean.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I remember learning about the history of cat’s eyes when visiting a museum near Halifax in the 80s or 90s. There are various accounts online, and you can choose which to believe. Cat’s eyes make an interesting topic for education because they are easy to understand.

A benefit of cat’s eyes that is often ignored is that it is obvious if you veer off-course and start driving over them, later exploited using rumble strips.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Not to be confused with rumble pot holes which might not offer such good guidance.
Reflective road marking paint incorporating glass beads, and tape for more temporary installations, can be quite effective and maybe has displaced cats eyes in some areas. http://www.3m.co.uk/3M/en_GB/road-safety-uk/road-markings/

Profile photo of wavechange
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That’s a good reminder of the recent Conversation about potholes, Malcolm. It might interest those who missed it: https://conversation.which.co.uk/motoring/potholes-roads-cars-damage-tyres-council-lga/

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Our council has installed some LED cats eyes that are remarkably effective – and a bit eerie when you also see them in your rear view mirror. Unfortunately their performance has deteriorated to the point when they are virtually invisible, presumably because the inbuilt solar power supply fails. It would be a good idea to surround the LEDs with retro-reflective panels (that have so effectively replaced Percy’s glass eyes) so there is a back up.

Member
Bobm says:
25 January 2017

Just don’t seem to see the traditional cats’ eyes much nowadays which is a shame. Agree with the comments about the planned LEDs, although I believe there are very few installed – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11845616/End-of-the-road-for-cats-eyes.html

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
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I was driving in thick fog over Christmas, it was dark too so admittedly it was probably unwise to be out on the roads, it was a saving grace whenever I came across a stretch of road that had working catseyes. The fog was so thick that my fog lights were just bouncing off of it so the catseyes were helping me to see the where the road was going. It really stood out just how many of them weren’t working and being a rural part of the country where there’s not much choice but to rely on roads it felt important that they should be – I’ll see if I can report this to the local authority!

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Karen Thomas says:
25 January 2017

Yes, I find that being guided by cats eyes in the dark is a hit and miss affair as not all are the same brightness and quality. I was pleased to see an A road south of Shrewsbury with excellent cats eyes and it was a joy to drive along this road. Conversely, where I live and drive the cats eyes are hard to see. Is this because they are damaged due to traffic flattening them and they need replacing?

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Yes cats eyes made a big difference at night but they weren’t only installed on roads . I remember a 1930,s massive stove enameled roadside sign for an upmarket hotel 30 miles away that lasted up to the 60,s , why do I remember it ? because as a child along with another boy we prised some of the cats-eyes out of it to keep , used to watch cars going along the road at night light up the sign must be the ultimate energy saving advert and early “planet saving ” lighting system.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Yes, a lot of road signs and edge markers had clusters of fruit gum-like glass buttons applied to the surface to catch the approaching headlights. They were also much used on direction arrows and town signs. By the time Motorways came along, new reflective materials had been developed for the signage but the old glass encrusted signs were still in place on many A and B roads for decades afterwards. I can’t believe there are many left now except in motor museums or as historic souvenirs. I remember once, during a gap in the traffic on the A11, digging the cat’s eye out of a road stud – it was quite a heavy and robust bit of kit and the glass ‘eye’ was embedded in a copper sleeve with two lugs like a bayonet fitting.

As the newly knighted Ken Dodd used to joke – he probably still does! – if the inventor of cat’s eyes had seen a cat walking the other way he would have invented the pencil sharpener.

Profile photo of davidinnotts
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The original catseyes have been improved only a little over the years, and have always been way better than anything that’s come since. They are expensive to buy and install, but once in are almost indestructible and merely need maintenance about once a decade: the core is extracted and replaced with another, then sent to the factory for refurbishment.

No battery or solar panel is needed. The long, efficient glass lens reflects a car’s headlights back extremely efficiently. When vehicles run over them, they depress into the cast-iron shell, which automatically cleans the lens with a rubber wiper – the whole shell is bathed in rainwater.

What’s wrong with them, then? In a word, maintenance. Short-term cost-cutting isn’t a problem, but 30 consecutive years of costcutting means that no maintenance is ever done – it can ‘always wait until the next budget’. And, one by one, they stop working. The fix is cheap and simple: maintain each one! They’re still there, and a new core is a complete fix. But one that no local council dare try, and the Highways Department is refused the budget to do on trunk roads. Instead, cheap plastic stickers are put in as a temporary fix when a road’s completely resurfaced, in the full knowledge that within a few years we’ll all be in danger again.

Lack of catseyes isn’t yet a cause to sue a council or the government – but maybe it ought to be!

Profile photo of umbwa kali
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I also wonder if fear [cost] of litigation may be a factor as well. With the proliferation of pot hols on some of our roads the possibility of an entire cats-eye becoming detached from the road way must exist. The housing itself is a fairly heavy steel casting that probably weighs a few kg. If an HGV/commercial vehicle rear wheel set [two tyres] picked one up it went through the windscreen of a following vehicle the potential for serious injury/death must be high. Councils with stretched budgets will be very wary of this aspect.

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bishbut says:
26 January 2017

Simple thing that actually work are alway replaced by technical things that only seem to work when new and wear out in a very short time Lets go back to the simple days when things lasted and worked for ever The authorities now think cats eyes are out of date and obsolete White lines are cheaper to install and maintain

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Burt says:
26 January 2017

I think the reason is due to the fact highways inspectors only inspection the roads during the day where they can see defects. Apart from defective cats eyes of course.

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That is probably true, Burt, but they also do scouting at night for street lighting failures so they should be noticing some cat’s eye defects, although cat’s eyes are most needed on unlit rural roads, including Motorways, where scouting is less frequent. I would expect modern camera technology to be used for cat’s eye fault detection these days so that a print-out of a given length of road is produced after each pass enabling accurate replacement. On single-carriageway roads, the cat’s eyes have to work in both directions.

So far as I could tell, the only thing that could go wrong with the the original cat’s eyes was that the glass ‘eye’ in its sleeve could pop out under exceptional pressure of traffic or degradation of the road surface. Since there were two glass ‘eyes’ facing in each direction that still left the unit functional in most instances. Modern designs might be less resilient as traffic volumes and weights have increased beyond their design expectation.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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One example of “modern” solar powered road studs with different energy storage methods:
Long Use Life Solar Powered LED Road Delineator Catseye Studs

Battery Type: Ni-Mh Battery Use life 3-5 years Operating time 32 hours after full charged
Li-on Battery 5-8 years 24 hours after full charged
Supper (sic) Capacitor Over 10 years 5 hours after full charged

If these are typical then only the Li-on seems possibly (but not very) useful – 3 years is a silly life, 5 hours is a useless operating time.

The beauty of Percy’s eyes was their simplicity – no energy needed – and durability – glass. I always thought the lens would have a pyramid-shaped back to use total internal reflection, but I believe they were silvered which would deteriorate with time. Newer cats eyes use 3M type retroreflective (corner cube) material as used on road signs – very effective but I don’t know how long they last.

Profile photo of wavechange
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The weak point of cat’s eyes is the rubber which wears. The lifetime will depend on how often a vehicle drives over them, which will depend a great deal on location.

This is an ideal application for capacitors and I am surprised that anyone even considered designs using batteries. I remain to be convinced that they will be cost effective but it would be interesting to find out.

Profile photo of John Ward
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The traditional [and presumably modern equivalent] cat’s eye types without an internal light source are ideal for roads where the traffic is using beam lighting whether main or dipped. I can’t see the need for solar-powered LED cat’s eyes in most highway situations.

I can imagine that the LED types are intended more for industrial sites and container depots where traffic might be moving at slow speeds on lower-level lighting and shadows impair the spread of overhead lighting. They are also probably specified for aerodromes where runways, taxiways and stands need to be permanently delineated in the absence of approaching headlights or overhead floodlighting.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Capacitor capacity seems the downside. We need catseyes to illuminate for the long winter nights, and in the murky weather that might follow, on days when solar charging is limited. It might be better to lay a low-voltage supply in a cable just below the surface and avoid the downsides of solar cells and storage.

Profile photo of wavechange
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By giving the LED-cats one eye, that would double the operating life, and flashing them on/off takes it to four times. It’s all a question of cost and reliability some of the options have not been around for long enough to know if they would be a good option. Maybe other countries are further advanced with tests. I’m a great believer in not being an early adopter when it is my money.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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That would reduce their visibility distance and flashing might be bad for some people.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I’m sure that these factors would be checked before they hit the production line. Bigger capacitors are obviously another option. Larger supercapacitors can store enough power to start a car.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Visibility in poor conditions – mist and fog – will require sufficient intensity for them to be effective.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I don’t suppose I am alone in seeing a new Convo and taking an interest in something that I may have given little thought to. For example, the discussion about potholes has kept me looking at the condition of roads and I will be interested to see what state local roads are in when the frosts subside.

This evening most of the cat’s eyes were in good condition, apart from the odd one. I did see a long line of what looked like traditional cat’s eyes that looked intact but were practically invisible in the car headlights. There was a good white line in the centre of the single carriageway road and the cat’s eyes seemed unnecessary since it was a straight road without nearby junctions.

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Dave Tolley says:
28 January 2017

One particularly bad place is VIRTUALLY NEW A46 dual carriageway from Newark to Leicester.(Even Google Earth with a 2016 image shows the road still under construction.)
The stretch going south from Bingham, to A606 Nottingham junction virtually all the cats eyes do not work .
The same is true for the north bound carriageway. Even on a clear night with good headlights virtually no cats eyes work. I know this road very well as I live locally and you have to concentrate very hard as the slip roads off the A46 seem to be where the main carriageway bends round to the left going south and right going north.
This gives the visual impression due to lack of cats eyes on the main carriageway that the straight ahead way is up the slipway, not round to follow the main carriageway. This is a very busy road 24 hrs and with oncoming headlights at night it makes matters worse. very Dangerous.

Profile photo of John Ward
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A random snapshot of a supermarket car park yesterday showed that roughly half the cars had dirty number plates, some of them virtually illegible. Since these are also intended to be an aid to night driving it behoves drivers to check them, and their lights, to make sure they are clean. Our car gets just as mucky as most on a short drive to the supermarket when the roads are damp and the atmosphere is misty so we have a pack of floor wipes in the car and a water-spray bottle so they can cleaned before the return journey. It only takes a minute or so. In the neighbouring county of Cambridgeshire the police have started prosecuting drivers for dirty number plates and lights following a recent campaign of issuing cautions. I expect everyone who complains about missing cat’s eyes to have perfectly clear lights and clean number plates.

Profile photo of wavechange
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The design of cars is a major factor and some hatchbacks are poor in this respect. On my present car, the number plates stay reasonably clean but I do have clean the rear view mirrors and sometimes the headlights especially when the roads have been heavily salted.

Traditional cat’s eyes are kept clean by vehicles driving over them. Where there are roadworks and cones are placed in line with cat’s eyes, these soon become dull and ineffective.

Profile photo of John Ward
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My ignorant guess is that the closer the rear wheels are to the back of the car the worse is the dirt on the tailgate. Spray comes off the rear tyres and the back-draught effect of the car’s motion pulls the dirty spray back on to the bodywork. In damp but not wet conditions it sticks, assisted by the surface oils and muck from the road.

Profile photo of ZelahBysouth
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On the A338 in The Winterbournes, north east of Salisbury, they resurfaced the road a couple of years ago, but did not replace the cats eyes- they were the original sort. In fact they left the holes where they should have been . My elderly friend crossing the road from the shop to the bus stop caught her foot in one and fell. Still has not been replaced.

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Dave says:
28 January 2017

A reverse problem to the cats eyes are the studs used for lane realignments because of road works. Around junctions 10 and11 on the M5 roadworks have been continuing on and off for years. Consequently there have been many lane realignments . The temporary narrow lanes are indicted by flat plastic studs. When the studs are removed for yet another realignment the holes that are left are filled with tar that with sun or rain on it makes it appear to shine. This is also the case with the white lines that are blacked out with the same tar. It is then very difficult to see the latest lane alignment especially where there have been a multitude of these realignments. I would have thought a top dressing of a non reflective powder could be applied while the tar was still sticky to overcome this problem.

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kenneth raine says:
28 January 2017

I don’t do enough night driving to comment on the state of cats eyes, invented by a Yorkshireman Percy Shaw of Halifax, a great idea. However the state of the roads is poor, when they are mended they soon corrupt again. If the councils are contracting out it isn’t working, council workers ought to do it then standards can be monitored.

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So what exactly are the ‘legal responsibilities’ of the Councils and Highways Agency when it comes to lane markings (eg cats eyes)? I once challenged the temporary lane restriction bollards and signage at a busy junction on the M62 as it made joining the motorway very tricky at rush hour. The response was that there were specific guidelines that had to be followed regarding the signage before a hazard. Allowing an additional few yards would have made joining the motorway much safer but it appears that there was no flexibility for common sense judgements. If temporary signage is ‘regulated’ it seems strange that basic road markings aren’t. It is also interesting that Councils seem to have no problem finding the funds for the overkill of signage which clutters our roads and pavements in city and suburban areas, when they are unable to fund basic road markings.

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Ian Cooper says:
28 January 2017

I really missed this simple innovation whilst living on the Isle of Man. Apart from the towns, the roads aren’t lit at night and the use of catseyes would have impact on the high number of accidents on the Island. The road between Ronaldsway Airport and Douglas can be particularly hairy and a journey I used to dread when returning from a trip home. Likewise the mountain road is particularly susceptible to fog and the drive, not to mention the accident rate, would be greatly improved with the introduction of catseyes.

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Perhaps they would create a safety hazard to the TT racers? Manx cats have no tails – coincidence?

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Graham Terrry says:
28 January 2017

Having spent time in Spain recently I was impressed by the generous use of Cats-eyes on the motorways.
At junctions several different colours are used to great effect. More useful than street lighting and with no operating costs.
God bless yet another Yorkshireman

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As someone who drives regularly in France in all weathers and where there are no cats eyes, I do not find it a problem, even though, generally, there is no lighting on the french motorways or “A” or “B” roads outside of the towns.

However, the painted road markings are well maintained and can be clearly seen in most weather conditions apart from snow (the same problem with cats eyes in the UK). Strict maintenance of the UK road markings would be far cheaper than installing and maintaining cats eyes. This should then restrict the problems that even cats eyes don’t fix: lack of concentration by drivers and inexperienced or bad/idiot drivers, whether in good or bad weather, day or night.

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Clare Butler says:
28 January 2017

It’s not just that they’ve failed – our council has deliberately removed at lot of them, on rural roads with no lighting. In fog it’s terrifying as the cats eyes were the only guidance.

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Ms Heffernan says:
28 January 2017

I have rarely seen any cat’s eyes here in Wiltshire and Dorset. I just thought they resurfaced roads and covered over them.
It does make driving at night extremely hazardous and that’s with it raining.

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This topic is very close to my heart – recently, I very nearly ‘lost’ the road completely on a wet and unlit section of the A12; it’s bad enough in the dry but the few surviving ‘eyes’ disappear entirely when wet.

As reported by other respondents, this is not a small or local problem and as such must be worthy of a concerted campaign to rectify this extremely dangerous situation. Surely, a ‘name and shame’ exercise in support is desperately needed. What about it ‘Which?’?

Whilst on the topic, reflective lines marking nearside road margins also seem to be disappearing – these too should be properly installed and maintained.

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A poster has mentioned the A12 – I don’t like driving along this road at night (London to Colchester J28 stretch) due to poor lighting and road markings. Even worse though is the A120 running from the M11 to Marks Tey J25 of the A12 – impossible to see edges of the A120 for miles.

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Tony Ellis says:
29 January 2017

I recently had the misfortune to drive, at night, on the A128 – southbound from the A127 towards the A13. This is mainly a single carriageway road and, mostly, unlit, not only were the cat’s eye not visible (or even there in the first place), but often there was no white line on the nearside either to delineate road from verge. Where there was a line, it had become almost useless through wear and tear and road dirt.

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Peter Luckin says:
29 January 2017

Is there a definitive legal requirement for the installation and maintaineace of cats eyes and white lines? Or is there just a ‘guidance note’ system? If the former, then a few legal actions might help improve the situation.

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Highway authorities have a lot of discretion to determine which road safety measures should be adopted for each length of road having regard to a number of factors. Once they have decided on a particular form then, for national consistency purposes, it has to comply with a design manual. Failure to provide any signage or driver guidance where there is a known hazard or a frequent safety problem could be considered negligent but I think it would be difficult to persuade a court that there was a breach of duty. The authorities will always fall back on the convention that a driver must proceed at a speed and with caution within the conditions and visibility prevailing at the time.

I believe the A12 is a trunk road managed by Highways England. It might be worth taking up concerns about deficient safety precautions with the relevant MP’s or with the Regulator, the Office of Rail and Roads.

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C Booth says:
29 January 2017

Some roads in East Devon have signs saying “cats’ eyes removed” but no explaniation. As the roads where this has happened are twisty and narrow it does make night and poor light driving difficult. Is it a cost cutting exercise?

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A quick search produced this newspaper article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11845616/End-of-the-road-for-cats-eyes.html

From this article: “The lights have a battery which is capable of storing up to 200 hours worth of charge, which means they work even on days when there is little light.
They cost £30 and last for between eight and 10 years. By contrast cats eyes cost around £10 and last for between two and three years before they need replacing.” Is this backed up by independent tests? It smells a bit like marketing to me.

Perhaps we need to look for official information about the government’s plans. I have nothing against LED versions of cat’s eyes but would want to see some long-term testing to test durability and overall cost of installation and maintenance.

This does not answer the question posed by C Booth. Why are cat’s eyes being removed?

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Clearview claim. for Solarlite LED road studs, up to 240h light output after a 3 hour charge on a sunny day – 100,000 lx. On an overcast day in winter, say 1000 lx max, a full charge would require around 300 hr. An 8 hr charge/day at this level would presumably give around 6h output – not enough to reach midnight. However the average winter level is likely to be much lower than 1000 lx. So the effective operation seems to depend upon quite regular sunny winter days. Does this logic seem reasonable?

Perhaps a Percy eye could be embedded between the LEDs, or they could be surrounded by a reflective panel, to compensate for poor weather?

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I read ‘up to’ as ‘less than’. 🙂

The beauty of traditional cat’s eyes is the wiping mechanism. I hope that the LED versions work in the same way. If I was designing LED cat’s eyes I would incorporate a self-wiping mechanism, perhaps using fibre optics linking the LED with the glass ‘eye’. I agree that it would be useful to have a reflective panel.

One problem with solar devices is that dirt or abrasion will decrease the output of the solar panel. Having them on a dirty road surface and periodically being driven on is hardly ideal. Placing the solar panels on poles at the roadside and connecting wires adds to the complexity and a failure could put out a series of LED studs. Compared with other uses of LEDs on our roads, I am not convinced that this would provide good value for money.

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I fail to be convinced that there is a superior system to the traditional cat’s eyes where no energy is required, they are self-illuminating from headlight beams, they clean themselves, and are made of heavy-duty materials for a long-life. In this application, solar power and LED’s seem to be solutions looking for a problem to my mind. Obviously traditional cat’s eyes need to be maintained properly. If the steel casing has become dislodged that can involve more work than just drilling a hole and plugging in a modern version [if that is how they are fitted]. I can’t believe that inserting replacement eyes into a traditional cat’s eye is much more complex than attending to a solar powered LED unit that has failed. I suspect that highway engineers have succumbed to marketing hype and wish to show off their modernity by embracing the latest technology even though it is not necessarily an advance in functionality.

As I wrote in a previous comment, there are many sensible applications for permanently-lit lane and space delineators but our rural roads are not one of them.

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When in good condition, and of decent quality, LED cats eyes can replace street lighting where only road guidance is required. They are visible over a much greater distance than reflective cats eyes, particularly on dipped beam. Useful also to mark the end of the minor road at a Tee junction where often a street light would be placed directly opposite. They can also be used in intelligent road systems where, for example, with appropriate signage, lanes can be switched during rush hour to handle more traffic in one direction. But I have to admit to a traditionalist nature where the simple often overrides the complex in workability.

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I am all in favour of those sorts of applications, Malcolm, and if the units are cheap enough I should like to see them used on the nearside of main roads to supplement the white lines. I also like the idea of replacing street lighting in appropriate situations; our local highway authority has recently spent a small fortune [PFI, I expect] replacing sodium lanterns with LED’s across the county, and installing shorter columns in many places, so they will not be keen to take them down again in a hurry. There are still hundreds of miles of unlit main roads in Norfolk that require a good guidance system and the traditional cat’s eye still seems right for the job. If people can’t see them perhaps they are going too fast!

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Janet says:
30 January 2017

I have noticed over the last 5 years cat’s eyes are disappearing at a fast rate it seems that when roads
are being repaired cat’s eyes are not put back in. I regularly drive down to Lyme Regis and have commented on this to my passenger, with black tar being the surface in pitch black lanes at night it is not an easy drive.
In fog I always relied on them to show the way as many other people do.

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J.W. says:
2 February 2017

Cats eyes are invaluable;e. They should certainly be retained! Reading these comments – Why is it that people rarely seem to use high intensity rear lights? These also are invaluable, in fog or heavy rain. Most modern cars have them, so why won’t people use them? Is it because they don’t know the have them, in which case they should read their cars’s handbook!

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From the Highway Code:
“Rule 226
You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (see Rule 236).”

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All new cars have to be fitted with at least one additional light at both front and rear for use in fog or other bad visibility conditions like heavy rain or spray or smoke, and these lights are of higher intensity than the normal lights. Far from also being “invaluable in fog or heavy rain”, that is in fact the only time when they should be used. Fog lights, whether at the front or rear, should never be used when visibility is clear enough to drive safely, especially at night when other drivers can easily be dazzled. Not only is this dangerous, it’s also illegal, and could result in a non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice which carries a £30 fine but no penalty points.

Reading the car handbook is useful but it’s also a good idea to know the Highway Code.

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I do wish that all cars were fitted with two rear fog lights. Many cars have only one – on the offside – with a single reversing light in the corresponding position on the nearside. If space is short then the tail lights can be combined with the fog lights using either twin-filament bulbs or some LED arrangement, but this is rarely done.

Profile photo of John Ward
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I don’t think proper lighting on both sides of the car should be compromised in the interests of a styling fashion. Some light clusters look ridiculous nowadays. It must make maintenance and replacement more difficult and a lot more expensive than it needs to be. Reversing lights are not just for alerting other drivers or pedestrians but for providing visibility when reversing into a dark space so I think they need to be on both the nearside and the offside of the vehicle.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I have modified three of my cars to provide a second rear fog light. One required the addition of an extra piece of wire but the others just need a bulb fitted. My present car has one rear fog light and a reversing light at the other side, so I have been denied to opportunity to improve the safety. On the positive side, it does have duplicated tail lights.

I agree with all you say and have had several whinges about daft LED lighting. Used sensibly, it is worthwhile but there is no need to treat cars like Christmas trees. 🙁

Thank goodness that car designers have introduced some excellent safety features.

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Drivers who keep their foot on the brake at traffic lights who have large bright clusters of lights on the rear almost blind you sometimes. Don’t know what the model was, but following a car recently with very bright clustered rear lights, it was almost impossible to see the brake lights.

As for reversing lights, I touch the brake pedal to light up the side of my drive when reversing as there is insufficient light from the reversing light.

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Member

I suspect that might happen more with autos, where most drivers pause at lights, etc. by simply keeping their foot on the brakes.

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Member

Another useful device on my automatic is “auto hold”, optionally selected, that holds the car from creeping or slipping back when temporarily stopped without me doing anything. No bright brake lights there.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

The Highway Code informs drivers not to keep their foot on the brake when stationary and to use the handbrake. As Malcolm points out there are alternatives to the traditional handbrake.

Member

The reason that there not as many cats eyes is the patent on them has run so anybody make or they desire to do so,they don’t make them any more in Halifax,still miss them ,.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

So do I Anthony.

Member
Michael Wadsworth says:
26 February 2017

I think I heard or read somewhere that cats eyes were being discontinued when the roads in question were repaired, either for cost reasons or because some jobsworth thought them unnecessary.