Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Roadside messages – helpful or a hindrance?

01 March 2018

We know that giving road users’ information at the right time and in the right place is essential for a good journey, but are some signs becoming more of a help than a hindrance?

When our staff have been out and about on motorways and major ‘A’ roads, they’ve fed back how Highways England is getting on with improvements we’ve recommended based on our research. From our time out on the road we know that road signage needs to be more useful for road users. I’ve written previous blogs on the subject here. Where more useful signs have been adopted, such as those now showing estimated delay times we have welcomed Highways England’s innovative (and helpful) new approach. However our recent travels still show that more needs doing.

Two examples spring to mind. We now have signs showing multiple pieces of information about travel times to various junctions, such as this one below. Our incidents and roadworks research shows that users aren’t familiar with junction numbers, so place names are needed on signs like this. Where there are limitations on the number of characters available on the sign, we want to see a single junction showing, leaving room for the place name to be added in. Much more beneficial and helpful to road users.

The second example is where signs are put on roads to warn of forthcoming closures, such as this one below. A useful sign to pre-warn users (although it probably needs to be bigger), but its placement causes confusion as to whether it’s the main carriageway or the slip road that is due to close.

On both signs, the sentiment is absolutely correct. Giving road users’ information is the right thing to do. Giving them accurate information is vital and ensuring that the information is helpful should be a top priority. We want Highways England to look at the roads that they manage through the eyes of a customer. We believe that the use of mystery shoppers is a good way to spot issues such as these. Our continuing research on roads in 2018 will look to keep the pressure on Highways England to improve, on behalf of road users.

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