Workers on strategic roads in Kent, Sussex and Surrey will from this month be protected by new technology, including a ‘unique’ crash cushion designed to absorb impacts from larger vehicles.
Highways England Area 4 main contractor A-one+ will take delivery of the first two new Impact Protection Vehicles (IPVs) fitted with ‘the Blade’ and ‘the RedX’ at the beginning of August with another four by the end of the month.
A-one+ said the Blade, manufactured by Dutch company Verdegro, is currently the only crash cushion sold in the UK that has been tested to US MASH crash testing standards – the most demanding in the world.
The cushion extends out to 6 metres in length and will be installed on to a new fleet of traffic management vehicles supplied by Safety Vehicle Hire and Lease, the specialist rental arm of King Highway Products.
The Blade is named after the way in which the patented device works. According to Verdegro, its strength comes from a composite aluminium welded profile. The unit has 12 internal ‘blades’ and during an impact four blades cut through the aluminium composite H-beams, with another 8 cutting through welded tubes, absorbing the impact. The remaining weak aluminium parts bend away safely.
Gavin Crittenden, A-one+ transport manager for Area 4, said: ‘We went looking for a new impact cushion because cars and lorries have got bigger and we need tougher protection for our staff working in front of our impact protection vehicles repairing the roads, litter picking or clearing up after accidents.
‘When the cushion is deployed behind an IPV, if anything hits it the IPV’s brakes lock and the cushion absorbs all the impact to stop the truck being pushed forward threatening our operatives, even under braking.’
A-one+ will also be using a new ‘RedX’ arrow board on the vehicle, also manufactured by Verdegro, designed to match the latest traffic management signage being used on smart motorways to signal lane closures.
Both have recently been approved for use on the strategic road network by Highways England and the Department for Transport.
As part of its new asset support contract, A-one+ took direct control of traffic management rather than subcontracting the function.
Mr Crittenden added: ‘Direct control means we know we are using the most up to date equipment tested and maintained to the highest standard.
‘Safety of our operatives is our top priority. But we are also finding that self delivering on traffic management and operative protection is more cost efficient.’