A Guide to Cats’ Eyes on the Motorway

The first cats’ eyes were invented in Halifax, England, in 1933. The entrepreneur Percy Shaw designed it as a cast-iron and rubber housing that holds a reflective glass sphere. The different materials are specifically engineered for a variety of functions.

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Current Road Application

The cat’s eyes’ metal part that has an audible sound when cars pass over it protects the eye. The rubber clears off the reflective glass when it is pushed down. The main advantage is the retroreflective design, which means the light is redirected back toward the source to optimise visibility while cars are travelling down the road. This not only offers adequate directional focus but increases road safety, especially when travelling through foggy or low-light conditions. And 2017 it was estimated that the UK has a staggering 500 million cats’ eyes on its roads.

Today, with Chevron kits and new versions of cats’ eyes you find they are predominantly solar-powered. It replaces the retroreflective glass with energy powering LED lights. Modern-day cats’ eyes have different uses and meanings with many colours as well. At the same time can you get chevron kits that safeguard your car as well as improving road safety.

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Standardised Safety

Across Europe the uses are standardised, including:

White – is used to mark islands and lanes and in the road centre. It’s a colour you will see the most in the UK.
Green – often marks minor side road and leaving or joining slip roads at exits, entrances and junctions.
Blue – mainly for police to monitor passing traffic and to park at slip roads and emergency pull-offs.
Red – found along a motorway hard shoulder.
Yellow – found along the median or edge of the central road

In the UK cats’ eyes are extremely popular – probably because there is so much fog in many parts. But they are not the only solution for motorists. Vehicle chevrons kits as designed and manufactured by and trapezoidal chevron designs are found on many roads and places to warn motorists.

However, specific colour-coded chevrons and lights have different meanings from one place to another. This is especially true when you get reversible variants and less-common colours. The main benefit though is that cats’ eyes are very beneficial at night and guide you through certain road conditions ahead such as re-joining a motorway.

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