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Netherlands lights the way with glow-in-the-dark road markings

Street lamps replaced with special road markings that light up at night.

A 500-metre stretch of road in the Netherlands has replaced street lights with glow-in-the-dark road markings. The painted lines in the road use a clever photo-luminescent powder that stores up the energy from sunlight throughout the day to illuminate them at night.

The radioactive green road markings are being tested on a section of road on the N329 near the city of Oss to see how the technology stands up to real life conditions such as extreme weather and being run over by drivers.

The glowing road markings are the work of designer Daan Roosegaarde of design firm Studio Roosegaarde, who came up with the concept in 2012. Construction company Heijmans was tasked with developing the special paint.

A number of benefits arise from using “glowing lines” to indicate the path of a road – besides making roads look like something out of the movie Tron. Doing away with energy-consuming street lights would, for instance, save money and energy used to run streetlights. Light pollution would also be reduced.

Visibility is said to be 900 metres instead of 90. Early testing has reportedly seen accidents at night reduced by more than 70 per cent.

A few concerns have been raised. Exactly how well the lines will stand up to wear and tear is unknown. RolaHeijmans worker Roland de Waal also noted that people were turning off their headlights to see how “beautiful” the lines were. There’s also the eight hour glowing time, which is only half of the 16 hours of darkness the Netherlands experiences mid-winter.

Testing was meant to begin in 2013, it has been reported, but Roosegaarde said “government bureaucracy” got in the way.

The original concept also demonstrated markings on the road that reacted to temperature. A picture of a snow flake appearing when it gets cold, for instance. This aspect of the design is not currently being tested.

Roosegaarde is looking to secure contracts to secure the future of his glowing road markings. If all goes to plan we could one day see the technology in the UK.


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