Glow-in-the-dark roads are being tested in Eastern Victoria as a novel way to improve traffic safety while also protecting animals. Tarmac Linemarking created these roads in partnership with OmniGrip Direct and VicRoads. They contain photoluminescent line markings that absorb sunlight throughout the day and emit stored light at night. The purpose is to illuminate roads without relying on street lighting, ensuring driver vision even when there is insufficient lighting.

While these glow-in-the-dark roads may appear drab on overcast days, the line markings, like ordinary road markings, remain visible to the public due to their reflecting white base. This project is part of the Department of Transport’s $457 million Victorian Government Road Safety Program. The goal is to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and benefits of these markings in improving road safety.

Putting a Spotlight on Road Safety

Tarmac Linemarking’s operations manager, John Emanuelli, feels that glow-in-the-dark roads have the potential to increase road safety in a variety of places. He identifies the Great Alpine Road, the road to Falls Creek, Mitta Mitta, and the Omeo Highway as sites that could benefit from this technology.

Similar trials have been carried out over the world, including one in 2014 on a motorway southeast of Amsterdam that was painted with photoluminescent powder. However, several irregularities were noted during the rains. In general, the technology has shown to be beneficial, resulting in a growing interest in employing it for diverse applications and receiving estimates from all over the world.

A Bright Solution for Rural Roads

Glow-in-the-dark roads can be especially useful for rural Victorian roads, considering the region’s recent 30% spike in car accidents. Long Truong, a civil engineering expert at La Trobe University, feels that photoluminescent markings can boost visibility greatly, particularly on highways with complex alignments, directional changes, and tight curves. Truong emphasizes the solution’s cost-effectiveness by eliminating the requirement for new infrastructure such as road lighting.

Wildlife Victoria’s chief executive officer, Lisa Palma, highlights the necessity of reducing light pollution for the sake of wildlife. She notes how excessive light can disturb bird migration patterns, upset breeding cycles, and expose nocturnal species to predators.

Glow-in-the-dark roads are important for decreasing light pollution since they reduce the need for lamps on distant and rural routes. Trials are currently taking place at locations such as Bendigo Creek Trail and Whittlesea-Kinglake Road to further investigate the benefits of this technology.

We can increase road safety while also protecting wildlife habitats by introducing glow-in-the-dark roadways. The long-term success of this new method will be determined by ongoing trials and assessments.