Highway Worker Honored for Pioneering Color-Coded Lane Markers | Be Korea-savvy

Highway Worker Honored for Pioneering Color-Coded Lane Markers

Color-coded lane markers at highway exits (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

Color-coded lane markers at highway exits (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

SEOUL, May 14 (Korea Bizwire) – A South Korean highway employee who pioneered the use of color-coded lane markers at highway exits over a decade ago has been awarded one of the country’s highest civilian honors.

On May 11, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety held a Government Innovation Awards ceremony, bestowing honors on six individuals and six institutions for their contributions to improving government services.

Among the individual honorees was Yoon Seok-deok, a deputy director at the Korea Expressway Corporation, who received the Moran Medal for introducing the nation’s first color-coded lane markers on highways. Yoon’s idea was to paint directional lines on the road in different colors for different destinations, helping drivers navigate complex highway splits and ramps.

The color-coded markers were first implemented in May 2011 at the Ansan interchange on the Yeongdong Expressway, and it is only now, 13 years later, that he is being recognized for his contribution.

In a past interview, Yoon recalled how the inspiration struck him in 2010 while working at the expressway corporation’s Gunpo office in Gyeonggi Province. Grappling with the problem of frequent accidents at the Ansan split of the Seohaean Expressway, he watched his young daughter coloring with crayons and thought, “Why not draw pictures on the road?” 

Although initially hampered by regulations that allowed only white, yellow, orange, red and blue markings on roads, the scheme proved so effective at reducing accidents that pink and green were eventually added as permitted colors under South Korea’s road traffic laws. 

Since Yoon’s proposal, over 900 color-coded lane markers have been installed across the nation’s highways, with reports of up to 40 % fewer accidents at exits utilizing the system. The markers have even begun appearing on urban roads due to their popularity among drivers who find them invaluable navigation aids.

“It’s a really great idea for road novices,” one motorist commented. “Not only does it reduce accidents, but it has saved many lives,” said another. “The developer deserves an award,” a third remarked, exemplifying the widespread acclaim for Yoon’s simple yet effective innovation.

M. H. Lee (mhlee@koreabizwire.com)

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