Shock-absorbing traffic light design aims to improve traffic safety

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An Australian road safety product manufacturing company, Impact Absorbing Systems (IAS), is working with the University of South Australia STEM to minimize the risk of collisions between vehicle occupants and traffic light poles by using a energy absorbing traffic light design, or an EATL.

The project is receiving $100,000 from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Center (IMCRC) Activation Program and the IAS is offering $100,000. The project is worth $640,000 in total research effort.

According to Dr Mohammad Uddin of the University of South Australia, traffic light collisions in Australia cost $18.5 million a year in fatalities, up to $16 million a year in repairs and 53.7 million dollars in injuries.

Over the next 12 months, IAS and UniSA STEM will work from IAS Energy Absorbing Bollards (EABs) to match the shape, size, length and placement of standard traffic lights .

In EABs, the lower section of the bollard rests inside a cone-shaped cavity in the concrete foundation. The diameter of the cavity is the same as that of the terminal at the bottom and larger at the top. This creates a space between the bollard and the concrete.

Inside this space is a cartridge of polyurethane foam that surrounds the cylindrical bollard to keep it straight.

When a car hits the bollard, the cartridge absorbs the impact and the bollard tilts without banging. Ideally, this reduces the extreme impact on the car and reduces the chance of damage to the bollard.

Smart sensors will be incorporated into the final traffic signal design. These sensors will track EATL performance and allow local authorities to perform preventive maintenance.

The hope is that the EATL will be ready for use by 2023.

Image Credit: Thomas Industry Update

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