Jun 27, 2023
Glow-in-the-dark roads are being trialled in Eastern Victoria and experts predict the technology could improve road safety. Bairnsdale-based company Tarmac Linemarking worked with OmniGrip Direct and
Glow-in-the-dark roads are being trialled in Eastern Victoria and experts predict the technology could improve road safety.
Bairnsdale-based company Tarmac Linemarking worked with OmniGrip Direct and VicRoads to install photoluminescent line markings along a 700-metre stretch of Metung Road in May.
The markings absorb sunlight, emit stored light when it is dark and are aimed at illuminating roads with bends, intersections or without street lighting.
Overcast days dull the glow but the markings remain visible due to a white, reflective base, similar to regular road markings.
The project is part of the Department of Transport's $457 million Victorian Government Road Safety Program, which will assess the cost efficiency and road safety benefit of the markings.
Tarmac Linemarking operations manager John Emanuelli said the markings would be particularly beneficial on remote roads.
"I think the Great Alpine Road, certainly there's spots on that that could be used, your road to Falls Creek, Mitta Mitta, Omeo Highway," he said.
Similar projects have been tested internationally — parts of a highway 100km south-east of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, have been painted with photoluminescent powder.
The 2014 trial attracted criticism over the sensitivity of the markings to rainfall and inconsistent levels of light, but Mr Emanuelli said things were different on the Metung.
"I've been back numerous times in different types of weather to have a look at how it's wearing and how bright it is, and it's working quite well," he said.
Mr Emanuelli said the markings could have a variety of uses and would also be beneficial to pedestrians and boat-ramp users.
"We've had a lot of people wanting quotes on different applications in different types of things," he said.
"We've spoken to most shires across the region about getting this on the road."
The number of lives lost on rural Victorian roads has increased by 30 per cent this year compared to 2021.
Forty-six per cent of these fatalities occurred due to vehicles running off the road.
La Trobe University Civil Engineering expert Long Truong said photoluminescent road markings would improve visibility and help drivers stay centred in their lane.
"I believe the technology would improve road safety for certain situations — for example, when we have very complex road alignment, changes in direction, tight curves and things like that," Dr Truong said.
"If we can identify the critical location where this can offer the highest benefit, I would say it is a cost-effective solution because we don't need to put actual infrastructure for road lighting."
The road markings could also reduce light pollution by eliminating the need for streetlights on rural and remote roads.
Wildlife Victoria chief executive Lisa Palma said artificial lighting harmed wildlife.
"It can impact breeding cycles of species, exposes vulnerable nocturnal animals to predators, can impact bird migratory patterns and accordingly can impact species over the longer term," she said.
"While it's important for roads to be very safe we also want to ensure that wildlife can go about their normal business without being impacted by light pollution at all and put themselves and drivers at risk."
The technology is being trialled at two other sites, including a section of Whittlesea-Kinglake Road and Bendigo Creek Trail, where 1.8 kilometres of line marking has been installed on the shared user path.
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