M25 closure this weekend: accurate information is the key for drivers

15 March 2024

This weekend sees a full closure of the M25 between junctions 10 and 11 near Wisley in Surrey. Clearly, closing such a busy stretch of road all weekend will cause inconvenience to many road users. If a journey cannot be avoided, it is more important than ever to plan the route in advance. 

We know that accurate, helpful information is a must for road users. It needs to be clear where a road will be closed, that there’s a diversion clearly signed and how much extra time (and mileage) will be added to the trip. At the moment we’re talking to road users about their experiences when diverted off a National Highways road, including at Wisley this weekend. We want to know what is working well and what more can be done to improve their experience. This important piece of work will enable us to help National Highways improve their diversion routes and driver communications in the future. 

Ahead of the closure this weekend, we have been checking what advance information is available. It’s a high-profile closure, attracting media attention in press and online news channels. National Highways own website and social media channels have good, clear information. Anyone travelling on the M25 last weekend would have seen signs advertising the closures, and it is refreshing to see organisations such as RHS Wisley and Gatwick and Heathrow airports fully engaged with National Highways to manage any potential issues for visitors and travellers to their sites. 

We have spoken to National Highways this week to ensure there’s a wide-ranging effort to inform as many people as possible across as many different channels as possible. This allows road users to plan ahead and to avoid running into traffic queues wherever possible. 

What could be improved? 

Many road users opt for Google Maps to navigate. Planning ahead for a journey on Saturday shows that Google ‘knows’ that the M25 is closed and will plot an alternative route for you. However, we found that this is different to the official diversion route advised by National Highways. A clear case of road users being given conflicting information that will possibly add to the angst that they may feel. 

Real time information will of course reflect congestion ‘in the moment’ and may differ from source to source.  However when it comes to information in advance, a single source of the truth about the most appropriate route, across multiple channels is important in building confidence and trust among road users. We’ll be using the findings from our work in this area to press those providing information, including National Highways, mapping companies and air and sea ports, to work together to speak as one about advance information in future. 

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