Proper contour marking is key for maintaining safety on the roads. It boosts the visibility of the cars parked on the roadside and those joining in the traffic. It also affects the reaction time of the other drivers and pedestrians.
According to the association Partnerstwo dla Bezpieczeństwa Drogowego (Partnership for Road Safety), with favorable weather conditions, vehicle marking guarantees visibility from as far as 1000 meters. Moreover, German university research claims that contour marking can decrease the risk of nighttime accidents (crash on the side and on the back) by even 95%.
Trucks and road accidents
According to the Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, in 2019 over 28 317 trucks of GVWR greater than 3,5 tons were registered in Poland. Due to its location and size, Poland is an important transit spot on the map of Europe. It is the home to many transport companies who operate on the European Union roads. Truck traffic is significant, as is the number of road accidents involving trucks.
What do scientists say about the reflective signs?
Most road accidents happen during the day, yet one out three accidents take place at dusk, dawn or during night, when visibility is very limited. German research conducted by Technische Universität Darmstadt supports the claim that proper vehicle marking severely limits the danger. The researchers analyzed 2216 road incidents involving an impact on the side or on the back of a truck. 37 % of side crashes and 41% of rear ends which happened during limited visibility time (dusk or night) were related to the fact that a truck was not seen in time by another driver.
As a next step, the German researchers made a trial run on a sample of 2000 vehicles (including trailers, semi trailers and tankers) to check the possibilities granted by contour marking. One thousand vehicles were marked with reflective contour tapes. The other half was left unmarked. Results were clear: during two years of monitoring, 30% of unmarked vehicles were involved in the road accidents. Meanwhile, in the second group, only one vehicle was involved. It has been officially stated that marking of the vehicle can limit the risk of nighttime accidents by as much as 95%.
Laws being what they are but reality…
Polish law (the regulation from the Minister of Infrastructure of 4 May 2009) and EU regulations oblige trucks produced after 2009 to use contour marking. Despite the obligation and arguments regarding safety, still many vehicles, especially in Poland, run without proper marking. A study conducted jointly by 3M and Partnership for Road Safety reports: 76% of the vehicles lack proper marking. Trucks have either partial marking, or marking which is incompatible with the rules, or have no marking at all. The law is neither executed nor enforced.
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