Can automated tapers improve safety on the National Highways network?


Kier will soon trial automated tapers with the ability to close lanes in minutes, removing the need for a person to install a cone taper next to live oncoming traffic

The new technology is known as SwiftGate and can be deployed in 5 minutes whereas a road worker takes an average of 25 minutes to direct oncoming traffic away from a live lane using a cone taper.

It has been decided that SwiftGate will be installed at the Area 3 Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey.

This particular stretch of road is regularly closed for essential maintenance work and in 2019, the lives of workers were put at risk when there were 14 vehicles crashes into these roadworks.

In partnership with National Highways and Highway Care, Kier will install automated taper gates on the north and southbound carriageways of the tunnel.

How do the automated tapers work?

  • The gates clearly and safely filter traffic out of the traffic lane
  • Cones can then be used beyond the taper to clearly mark out the closed-off lane
  • The tapers eliminate the need for works to manually set out tapers and provide a strong visual deterrent to help avoid incursions, particularly at night-time

Watch how Swiftgate will work in this video.

Kier Highways senior project manager, Mark Sheppard, said:

“The SwiftGate project will give us a great opportunity to trial something that is completely new to the National Highways network, that will modernise the standard approach to road worker protection.

“Traffic management installation can be a high-risk activity, so the opportunity to introduce an automatic solution that has the potential to significantly reduce risk our people are exposed to when working close to live traffic, is a worthy project.”

Head of lean and continuous improvement Martin Bolt, who is part of the innovation team for National Highways, commented:

“Installing and removing a taper of cones in the face of traffic exposes our road workers to risk, particularly on elevated sections of motorways, bridges or tunnels where there may not be an embankment or place of safety.

“If successful, SwiftGate is another step to zero live lane working for our workforce as we work towards our goal of ensuring nobody is harmed while working or travelling on our roads.

“The automated tapers free up workers to do other jobs and can be put out in just 50 seconds meaning work can begin straight away with less disruption for road users. We look forward to seeing SwiftGate in action at Hindhead Tunnel.”

Highway Care business development director, Ben Duncker, added:

“We are very pleased, after many months of hard work from the project team, that we are able to commence the trial of this exciting safety innovation working collaboratively with Kier and National Highways.

“We are confident that the system will be a success in, not only improving the safety of our traffic management operatives but also improving customer journeys through the faster and more efficient closing and reopening of lanes.

“Safety through innovation is our priority and the ability to trial such new solutions with National Highways is  testament to their commitment to making the roads safer for all users.”



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