Curve delineation shines light on safety concern          

If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow the directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways. You usually see a series of yellow signs with black chevrons warning drivers, or a row of standard delineators or reflectors showing a hazard ahead. In some locations, these tactics still may not stop the number of drivers missing the curve and crashing through the signs.

The idea to improve this safety concern was submitted by District 4 designer James Bennett, who sought to create a low-cost alternative or addition to signage to assist drivers in recognizing the change in direction of travel.

“This couldn’t replace the chevron sign but could supplement them, or use the directional delineators on curves that don’t warrant the chevron signs yet,” Bennett said. “There are curves out there where we do have run-offs. If maintenance knows there is a curve we have an issue with, this is something that can be quickly deployed.”

It was a simple idea — use existing three-inch reflective tape, cut 45-degree triangles, and stick them to existing delineator poles. A series of delineators could be installed within a couple hours.

Bennett and a group from the Shoshone East operations team installed the delineators along U.S. 93 near Richfield in May (pictured above).

A before-and- after video illuminates the differences.

“If nothing else, it lights up the curve like crazy,” Bennett said.

He has already completed a standard design and, ultimately, Bennett hopes the idea can lead to a standard design and be manufactured by suppliers.

“This is just the start of the idea. If we can improve on it, that would be better,” Bennett added.

Published 08-18-17