/ 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?

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.


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

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


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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.