Be-Seen Screen released to transform roadside safety
- New safety device designed to improve safety and avoid collisions on smart motorways
- Product designed in Britain will be on sale soon
- Research suggests accidents and fatalities are higher on smart motorways
A new ‘Be-Seen Screen’ has been unveiled by a British entrepreneur, and is designed to improve safety for broken down motorists.
The screen, which contains the same high-vis and reflective technology as seen on modern police and emergency vehicles, is affixed to the rear of a broken down vehicle with suction pads, and could add extra seconds of awareness for drivers to avoid serious accidents.
The designer of the screen, Richard Edwards, has already targeted motorway drivers, especially those that use the ever increasing amount of Smart Motorways in the UK.
He says: “For the thousands of people driving on busy roads every day, the Be-Seen Screen is a straightforward and affordable option that will improve visibility. It could provide extra seconds of awareness that can help to prevent serious accidents.”
Smart Motorways have been heavily criticised since their introduction, with the loss of a hard shoulder during busy times leading to an increase in accidents. Two men were killed on the M1 in 2019 after stopping in lane one, leading to a coroner to call for a review into the safety of their use.
Figures released in May 2021 suggested that live lane fatality rates between moving and stopped vehicles are more than a third higher on smart motorways compared to conventional motorways.
The data, submitted by the Department for Transport (DfT) to the Commons transport select committee inquiry into the roads, says that higher rates of fatalities on smart motorways were recorded in both 2018 and 2019.
It is expected that smart motorways and strategic road networks will eventually use Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) technology to provide lane-by-lane warnings of incidents and obstructions.
The deadline for this technology on UK smart motorways was set for 2023, but is being repeatedly moved forward.
Edwards continues: “Grant Schapps (UK Transport Secretary) has already agreed that smart motorways are anything but smart; if there’s a breakdown in lane one, and with hard shoulders in use, motorists are very exposed.
“Emergency refuges are too far apart for many drivers to reach them safely, so an effective high-visibility warning device is needed to reduce the risk.
“With a Be-Seen Screen on board, if your vehicle fails on a rainy afternoon in poor light conditions, you can have a bright, reflective warning sign in place in moments. By pressing the powerful suction pads to the rear windscreen or boot you can clearly and securely display the distinctive chevrons and ‘broken down’ message.”
The device has been under development for three years, has been patented for use in the UK and tested across a wide range of vehicles in varying conditions at the Millbrook Vehicle Proving Ground.
It uses a micro-prismatic method to achieve a high reflective performance in all conditions and at any angle, doesn’t rely on electronics that could potentially degrade and requires no energy source.
“The banner has the same reflectivity as emergency vehicles, day or night, to make other motorists aware of your stranded vehicle. It’s an eye-catching and faster alternative to safety triangles where the 45 metre walk along the carriageway to put them in place represents a risk in itself,” Edwards concludes.
The product also has the full endorsement of a former Senior Policing Commander of Thames Valley Police.
The unnamed source, who has over 30 years of policing experience, says: “As technology has changed with smart motorways, for example, the way all drivers of motor vehicles react to breakdowns also needs to change. This safety product, with the availability to deploy so quickly, will support them in doing so.”
Richard Randle is a motorsport PR professional working with the UK’s top racing circuits and the UK’s premier single-seater category, the BRDC British F3 Championship.