SMIDSY – An acronym that crosses bilingual boundaries and represents a sentence that motorcyclists everywhere never, ever, want to hear. In Wales, however, the Welsh Government have ‘seen’ fit to take innovative first steps towards seeking to reduce its incidence.
The solution involves working in partnership with Fusion Processing Ltd, a Bristol based firm and one of two winners of a Welsh Government challenge under the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to develop innovative approaches to improving the safety of motorcyclists. The winners share funding of up to £450,000 to develop their products to a point where they can be marketed.
Fusion has developed a junction alert system which uses a combination of radar and cameras to identify when a motorcyclist is approaching. Its primary aim and purpose is to reduce collisions at junctions involving motorcycles by alerting drivers of the biker’s approach and direction of travel.
In March 2015, a Motorcycle News report on collision statistics noted that “…of accidents involving injury, 69% of all accidents involving a motorcyclist took place at a junction….”
The system developed by Fusion seeks to help reduce junction related collisions and injuries by using ‘start of the art’ technology incorporating a roadside mounted detector which detects and classifies approaching vehicles on the main carriageway before transmitting this information to junction mounted electronic signage. The signage then alerts vehicles approaching the junction from the relevant side road of the approaching motorcycle, before they emerge to join the main carriageway.
The signage alerts will be displayed bilingually and will indicate to the driver at the junction both that a motorcycle is approaching as well as telling the driver which way to look. Research indicates that drivers respond well to active signage and also that those drivers who are actively looking for motorcyclists are more likely to see them. The system developed by Fusion seeks to capitalise on both these elements with the aim of contributing to increased safety and reduced casualties as a consequence.
Fusion recently addressed the 2017 Road Safety Wales Conference at Llandrindod Wells and explained how their system was developing and when it would be mobilised. Their presentation was well received by the assembled audience of road safety professionals and the various emergency services representatives.
Fusion launched trials of their new junction technology in late June 2017 with three placements in mid and north Wales. The Welsh Government is to be commended for such a proactive, positive approach to motorcyclists’ safety as I see it and I, for one, will be ‘looking out’ for the results with great interest.