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What are cats eye road studs and how do they work?

There are many elements of our road networks that we don’t really notice… until they’re not there.

After street lighting and line markings, cats eyes are probably the most noticeable omission - especially when driving at night - and they play a critical role in road safety.

What are cats eyes?

Cats eyes are reflective road studs that help to illuminate road boundaries for drivers at night. They’re most prevalent on roads where street lighting isn’t available, or on extremely busy highways, including motorways, country roads and rural A roads.

They work by reflecting light back towards the source - such as your headlights - by way of a domed glass tube known as a retroreflector.

More modern iterations of the cats eye include LED lights that are solar-powered.

Why are cats eyes important?

Cats eyes are important as they help guide drivers at night. They’re exclusively used to denote road boundaries, including the edge of the road on either side, the road partition down the centre, and also to signal any lane change or slip road - especially on motorways.

If you’ve noticed different coloured cats eyes but aren’t sure what they mean, this handy guide will help:

White cats eyes

Amber or red cats eyes

Green cats eyes

Centre lines and lane markings

Edge of the road and shouldn’t be crossed

A lane that can be crossed, such as a slip road

Cats eyes are critical on roads which aren’t illuminated at night (which is a large portion of the UK road network).

What are cats eyes made from?

Cats eyes are designed to be durable, long-lasting but also non-damaging to tyres when driven over.

The primary materials they’re made from include:

  • Aluminium: The reflective ‘cats eye’ itself sits within an aluminium casting, ideal for the centre of the road

  • Plastic: More cost-effective but less durable

  • Glass: A dome of safety glass sits above the road surface and reflects light in all directions

  • LED: As mentioned above, LED cats eyes capture energy in the day and start to shine at night, and can be viewed from further away for drivers

Pros and cons of cats eyes

Cats eyes were first patented in 1933 and various designs have been widely used worldwide ever since. The benefits massively outweigh the cons, but that’s not to say there aren’t some issues associated with them.

Pros include:

  • Enhances road safety

  • Helps show road boundaries in areas with no street lighting

  • Also help during back weather, such as heavy rain, where line markings might become obscured by water

  • Driving over them acts as a warning to drivers that they’re departing the road / lane

  • They don’t need external power to work

  • They’re durable

  • They don’t damage tyres when driven over

  • They’re cheaper to install than it is to set-up and run street lighting

Cons are:

  • They are expensive to install and replace compared to line markings

  • Poor installation can lead to them becoming loose

  • Driving over them creates noise which can be annoying for any local residents

  • They can’t be installed on unpaved roads

Buy cats eye road studs online

If you need to buy cats eye road studs for your next project, then Lineway UK can help!

We have a range of road studs suitable for most projects including 3M one way road studs, temporary two way road studs, as well as pedestrian crossing studs.

To order in bulk and enjoy our best prices, get in touch here.


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