Potentially life-saving technology, first trialled on Dunedin
roads, is being installed throughout Otago in another world
About 700 PATeye road markers, which flash blue in icy
conditions, are being installed across the region to warn
motorists and prevent crashes.
The two-year trial of the Christchurch-developed technology
has already attracted global interest and praise from
national organisations including the New Zealand Automobile
Association (AA) and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
''These markers are a world-leading technological development
that should help prevent crashes. By flashing blue, these
markers will give people a potentially life-saving warning
that there is ice ahead,'' AA Otago chairman Jeff Donaldson
Last year, Christchurch company Solar Bright put 20 of its
globally patented PATeye markers on North Rd in Dunedin's
Northeast Valley and on Main South Rd at Sunnyvale.
Solar Bright's Pat Martin invented the technology in response
to a request from the Dunedin City Council, in conjunction
with Fulton Hogan, for a sustainable device to warn motorists
of road ice.
National data showed about 84% of motorists exceeded speed
limits in general and about 79% did so in icy conditions.
Last year's PATeye trial in Dunedin indicated only about 23%
of motorists exceeded the speed limit when the markers
''It was a very small trial, but unbelievably successful,''
Solar Bright global sales director Rob Haywood said.
The Central Otago District Council and Queenstown Lakes
District Council have become involved, as well as the NZTA.
PATeye markers have recently been installed at Blacks Hill
between Ophir and the Ida Valley, along the Kelvin Peninsula
in Queenstown and on Three Mile Hill Rd in Dunedin. The North
Rd and Main South Rd markers have remained in place.
The NZTA has also started collecting base data at four
locations on State Highway 1 - the Leith Saddle on Dunedin's
Northern Motorway, Waipori River Bridge, Taieri River Bridge
and the Narrowdale intersection just north of Milton - as
well as through the Manuka Gorge on State Highway 8.
Once data about traffic volume and speed has been collated,
PATeye markers will be installed at those locations so a
comparison can be drawn.
NZTA Otago/Southland highway manager Ian Duncan said the
markers would have been installed on state highways earlier
if there had been more ice during winter.
Markers might not be installed on state highways until next
year, he said.
Mr Haywood said Solar Bright was supplying the trial markers
free of charge and they were being installed by contractors,
including Downer, through existing contracts with territorial
A University of Otago professor would analyse data collected
during the trial, as a private assignment, he said.
The Canadian ministry of transport was among international
organisations interested in the technology.
PATeye markers were solar-powered and an eight-hour charge
provided more than 450 hours of continuous flashing.
Vehicle headlights also powered the road markers, which, when
flashing, were visible in any light and when covered by snow.
Solar Bright was working on associated ''smart roading''
technology so the markers could send signals to activate
other road signs and alert authorities about ice so that
they, in turn, could update road condition websites and move
quickly to spread grit, Mr Haywood said.
''We've spoken to just about every council in New Zealand
affected by ice and they are just dying for it [PATeye] to be
put in. We've had really strong support from police, the Fire
Service, St John, AA and the insurance council,'' he said.
AA principal adviser of regulations Mark Stockdale said any
improved advice to motorists was good.
''This is a very accurate and localised warning where at
present we only have static signs warning of possible ice,
and people have to judge whether it's cold and wet enough for
ice to form,'' he said.
Between 2008 and 2012 there were 520 crashes on icy roads in
Otago, resulting in 175 people being injured.