Road users: Getting the message?

12 August 2016

I would hope that communicating with the customer must rank very high on the agenda of every organisation, whether selling something, providing a service, influencing behaviour change or something else. Our experience on rail, bus and tram services reveal obvious communications channels with customers and includes information screens at stations, on-board announcements or providing free Wi-Fi and allowing customers to check emails and social media.

Road users provide an altogether new challenge for Highways England and others that may want to get across important information. Drivers need little distraction so that they can concentrate on road conditions and ever-changing environments. So how do you tell them about driving on smart motorways? How do you get across the latest set of roadworks that will disrupt their journeys? How do you warn drivers of the dangers of running out of fuel or having dangerous tyres?

Radio seems like an obvious solution. The vast majority of vehicles will have them installed but with hundreds of stations available you can’t get to everyone this way. What about a dedicated roads radio station? Something to tune into when you are about to head out on the motorway. Highways England have tried this before – Traffic Radio was a DAB station but maybe slightly ahead of its time before because not many vehicles had this latest technology. However, vehicle technology is advancing quickly and I feel it is a different kettle of fish these days. Perhaps something to consider again?

What else is available and what would work for road users? Our roads team currently speaks to Highways England on a monthly basis to ensure that road signs and the Traffic England website are timely, accurate and importantly helpful to users. Information is a key factor in our forthcoming research looking at road user delays and disruption caused by incidents and roadworks. Watch out for this research that we will publish in the next few weeks.

Is there something else? Something missing or obvious that would help you when driving on motorways and major ‘A’ roads? Let me know if you have any suggestions.


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