World leading icy road warning technology on trial in Otago


Unseasonably warm winter weather, is frustrating efforts to trial a Kiwi designed ice warning road marker believed to be a world first, on State highway sites in Dunedin city and the Clutha district.

The NZ Transport Agency had hoped to have a two-year trial underway in early August at five sites in the Coastal Otago area of the marker that flashes when a road surface becomes icy. All the highway trial sites have significant ice related crash histories. The PATeye marker designed by Christchurch firm Solar Bright displays a flashing blue light that warns motorists of icy road conditions.

NZ Transport Agency Otago/Southland highway Manager Ian Duncan says there hasn’t been enough frosty weather to collect the pre-trial base line data we need, and it’s likely a start on the trial will have to be put off until next winter. We need the pre-trial data to help as part of the assessing what effect the markers have on driver behaviour, and whether it causes drivers to slow down because they are more aware the road could be icy.

“The markers have the potential to make an important contribution to the “Safe roads and safe roadside” aspects of the “Safe system” that drives the NZ Transport Agency approach to reducing death and serious injuries on our roads.”

Depending on the results, the trial could be extended to other parts of the country. This technology may prove to be an effective real time ice warning system so road crews can more effectively target gritting and other ice reduction work, to ultimately bring down overall winter road maintenance costs. 

Mr Duncan said the NZ Transport Agency felt it was important to measure the effectiveness of the markers on both highways and urban city roads. The Queenstown/Lakes District Council, Central Otago District Council and Dunedin City Council are also testing this technology on their respective local road networks.

Solar Bright spokesperson Rob Haywood says we are delighted the NZ Transport Agency has seen the road safety potential of our PATeye markers, and agreed to trial technology that isn’t available anywhere else in the world at the moment. We believe the technology has real export potential and already we have had interest in it from North America, Europe and Scandinavia.

State highway Trial sites:
State highway 1 - Northern Motorway Dunedin (Leith Saddle)
State highway 1- Waipori River Bridge
State highway 1 -Taieri River Bridge
State highway 8- Manuka Gorge
State highway 1- Narrowdale Intersection just north of Milton

Central Otago District Council Trial sites:
Blacks Hill, between Ophir and the Ida Valley
Trial manager: Julie Muir 03440 056

Dunedin City Council Trial sites:
North Road, North East Valley
Main South Road, Sunnyvale
Three Mile Hill Road
Trial manager: Bruce Wood 03 477 4000

Queenstown Lakes District Council Trial sites:
Kelvin Peninsula Road (4 Sites)
Trial manager: Denis Mander 03 450 0530

For more information on PATeye markers go to: link)