Sully Island gets tide traffic lights

A ground breaking traffic light system which uses a tide gauge to indicate when safest to cross a causeway is being trialled at Sully Island in Penarth.

The sign uses a tide gauge to indicate when it is safe to cross. Credit: RNLI

Traffic lights for people to get safely to Sully Island and back again are being trialled by the RNLI.

Volunteers from Penarth are regularly called to assist people cut off by the tide. The RNLI’s Coastal Safety Team has now devised a pioneering warning system.

In 2013 the RNLI responded to 428 incidents of people being cut off by the tide and saved 109 lives.

Hundreds have had to be rescued from Sully Island over the years. Credit: Coastguard

Sully Island is a popular place to walk and families regularly find themselves trapped. The speed of the incoming tide can make crossing dangerous and potentially life threatening.

By observing the sign, visitors don’t have to second guess how much time they have, and know exactly when it is safe to cross. We will be monitoring the impact this sign has throughout the season.’

– RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager Nicola Davies

The sign uses a tide gauge to indicate three phases - when it is safe to cross - when time is running out and when it is unsafe to cross the causeway. The tide gauge is able to sense how quickly the water is coming in.

In the yellow phase, the sign provides a countdown as to how much time is left on the causeway. When the warning light displays red, it signals a warning that there may not be enough time to get back to the mainland.