Road users make it clear – improved information essential

06 December 2016

It is inevitable that there will be times when the roads we travel on are jammed with congestion. A big incident happens or poor weather occurs which creates long queues. We understand that drivers think that incidents can be challenging to deal with for the authorities and empathise with those caught up in them, but our incidents and roadworks research recently gave us more insight into drivers needs in these situations.

Information is crucial when a big incident has happened. Road users told us that they want to see improved, more useful information at the roadside, for example, the length of the delay, an explanation regarding what the delay is, and what to do instead are essential user needs. There are different ways of communicating with road users, including radio, social media and electronic signs at the roadside. All options will be needed to get the right messages to the relevant people.

Roadside information SIB2

But what if those ways to communicate aren’t available? You can’t always see a message sign, you might not use social media (or indeed might be driving and unable to use a smartphone). The road users we spoke to in our research want to see innovative solutions which get information to people on the ground, perhaps using Highways England Traffic Officers. Interestingly, at a recent highways maintenance and traffic management event, I saw a range of portable message signs and vehicle mounting options seemingly available to deliver innovative roadside messaging solutions.

Roadside information 2 IMG_4249

Our report makes a number of recommendations that we want to see Highways England consider, for the benefit of its road users. In this digital information age, we believe that getting roadside information right is crucial and achievable.

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