Now that winter is well and truly here, many of us often have to make whole journeys in the dark. Sometimes the only way to reach our destination is by driving down windy country lanes and on foggy winter evenings we crawl along, trying to make out the next bend in the road.
It’s only then that we realise how valuable those small reflective road studs or ‘cat’s eyes’ have become, and how much we miss them when they’re not there. It’s a great reminder of the truly important things that we often take for granted.
It was on one of these dark and foggy nights that Percy Shaw, from Halifax in West Yorkshire, had a moment of illumination — an idea that would be known as “the most brilliant invention ever produced in the interests of road safety”.
In 1933, Shaw was driving along a steep and winding road towards his home. He knew the route well but, on similarly dark nights in the past, he had used the glinting tramlines in the road to guide his car around bends. Those tramlines had recently been removed for repairs and Shaw found himself in pitch darkness.
And it was just then that Shaw saw two small points of light glowing in the rural blackness — the eyes of a cat sat on a fence. He reached his home safely that night and recognised the opportunity to improve road safety by using reflective, weather-proof devices that could be sunk into road surfaces. From then on, he dedicated his spare time to developing cat’s eyes.
These days, cat’s eyes are a regular fixture on any major road — helping travellers reach their destinations safely, regardless of the conditions. If it weren’t for Shaw’s attention to what could have seemed to be a minor detail, travelling on a dark and foggy night would be a more dangerous experience for everyone.
Safety is so ingrained in what we do and how we do it that you might not notice the measures we put in place — like cat’s eyes, you could take them for granted. We take health and safety seriously, just like innovators such as Percy Shaw. We pay close attention to the smallest detail so it’s easy for you and your people to make safe food choices.