Smart highway innovations aim to make roads as safe as the cars

We tend to think of high-tech driving safety innovations as being limited to the car itself, but a Dutch design team thinks that the road needs to play an active role, so they have proposed a number of cool new ideas to make driving less risky.

The Glowing Lines concept is kind of similar to the reflective 'cats eyes' you often see on European roads, but instead of glass beads that reflect the car's headlights, this uses luminous paint that glows for up to ten hours through the night. This should be especially useful on rural highways and roads that are not illuminated at night by street lights.

Wind Lights use small propeller-style wind generators attached to each light, so they need no external power source. The wind turbulence generated by cars driving ahead of you will spin the generators, providing light by the time you arrive on the scene.

Leaving street lights on continuously wastes power when there's no traffic, so the Interactive Light concept uses motion detectors to power up each light as a car approaches. Of course it's not much use if the light only comes on when you're already at that spot in the road, so the Interactive Lights is designed to switch on the lights a couple of hundred yards up the road as you approach.

Roads can get especially treacherous when it's right around the freezing mark, so Dynamic Paint warns the driver about the condition of the road surface. Once it drops below freezing, snowflake symbols painted in temperature sensitive paint appear on the road, warning the driver about the slippery surface.

The Electric Priority Lane is a reserved traffic lane designed for electric cars. Induction coils embedded in the roadway will charge the car's battery as you drive, so you won't have any of those annoying range limitations.

Some of these concepts seem brilliant, while a couple will probably need a little tweaking to be useful. The design team from Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure won the Best Future Concept prize at the Dutch Design Awards, and the Dutch government says that they plan to start implementing some of these ideas as early as next year. Unfortunately they didn't say which ones, although I think the Glowing Lines idea is a no-brainer.

Check out the gallery to see how the design team sees these concepts working.

Studio Roosegaarde, via DesignBoom

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook