Percy Shaw invented the first glass cats-eye road stud in the UK town of Halifax. After extensive testing the department of transport adopted a national policy to use Percy Shaw’s cats-eye on its major routes.
The cats-eye road stud was used on the first motorway and by the end of the 1960’s cats-eyes were being used in all the lane markings on the majority of our national trunk road network.
A surface-mounted or “stick-on” road stud was developed in the USA by Sidney A Heenan of the Stimsonite® Corporation (formerly Amerace) who introduced a prismatic reflector encapsulated into a plastic body, which could be applied to the surface of a carriageway. This Stimsonite product offered a much faster installation than the traditional cats-eye and as a result was used throughout the rapidly expanding Interstate road network, making North America the largest user of road studs in the world.
The UK identified the need for a cheaper, self-cleaning reflector/road stud for use at the edge of main carriageways to give increased night-time visibility. The US Stimsonite product was identified as the solution and the type 88 or 911 ‘stims’ (as commonly referred to by contractors) were imported to meet this demand.
Stimsonite® Corporation supported a UK driven innovation to develop a new, smaller, low impact traffic resistant “stick-on” road stud for use anywhere within a scheme. The new 948 offered exceptional reflectivity and a low cost combination which made it a real alternative to the previously used cats-eye and was specified for use on UK roads. Though initially successful, the 948 was found lacking, as traffic density especially heavy goods traffic increased the product life expectancy reduced. Tougher variations, such as the 953 were introduced, but the ever increasing traffic volumes meant that something new was needed which combined the high reflective qualities of the 948 but with a far greater degree of durability.
In the 1980s, Stimsonite® Corporation introduced a reflector incorporated and protected into an “H” shaped metal casting for use in the snow plough regions of North America. This highly successful 101 type snowplough marker was launched into the UK market in 1999 by Roadcraft and Fleming as a long life solution. The marker quickly gained support, but contractors needed specialised installation equipment which limited the uptake.
As a result of the market response to the 101, Roadcraft and Fleming went on to develop a more acceptable UK long life variant and in 2003 launched the 301 stud. The stud consists of a new shaped cast metal base that is manufactured in the UK for us by Thomas Dudley Ltd and houses a prismatic reflector. No specialised installation equipment is required for use with the 301 and the product was very well received by UK road stud contractors.
Further development of the 301 product came about in 2005/06 when Roadcraft and Flemings joined forces with 3M Traffic Safety Products. The reflector was changed to the highly regarded 3M™ Marker Series 290 Reflecting Road Stud.
This new 301/290 combination has sold over 1 million units and is now the UK’s market leader in road stud technology.