July 2007

Driver Location Signs - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a driver location sign?

A sign by the side of a motorway or an all purpose trunk road that tells the road user:

2. Is there a standard sign design for all types of road?

The design of driver location signs is the same, for motorways and "A" roads, to ease driver understanding of the new signs:

3. How will these signs help to reduce congestion?

The signs allow road users to telephone the road rescue organisation or the Regional Control Centre and advise their exact position when reporting an incident.  This leads to improved response times by the emergency services and traffic officers, thereby reducing the severity of incidents.  All this helps to reduce congestion.

4. Where will the Driver Location Signs be positioned?

Driver location signs are being trialled along certain routes, such as the M25, part of the M6 in Cheshire and some A roads in the Midlands. The driver location signs are located on the near side verge of the road at every 500m. In certain locations the spacing will be 400 metres or 300 metres to avoid locating the sign where it could not be easily seen by road users, such as beneath or after a bridge.

5. What does 'A' and 'B' mean on the second line of the signs?
Driver Location Sign

The letter on the second line of the signs is called the carriageway identifier. On the M25, this is either A or B if travelling on the main carriageway. This helps the emergency services identify which direction the road user is travelling along the route. For example:

If the driver location sign is on a slip road, the carriageway identifier will be H or K or L or M depending upon the location.

6. What do the numbers mean on the third line of the signs?

The numbers indicate the distance from a defined point on the network, measured in kilometres. For example, on the M25, the distance is measured clockwise round the M25 from the Dartford crossing.

This enables the emergency services to determine the location of an incident to within 500 metres.

7. How will the HA ensure that road users know what driver location signs are?

The HA will be holding a national press launch to help publicise the purpose of driver location signs, with a national press notice.  This will be accompanied by a local press notice for each of areas 5, 10 and 11.

TO will be distributing leaflets and information cards to road users that include information on driver location signs.  TO also plan to display pop-up posters in several prominent locations frequented by drivers, such as motorway service areas, trunk road service areas and large offices near the M25.

The Highways Agency Information Line (08457 50 40 30) and each of the Regional Control Centre will be briefed by TO on responding to enquiries from callers about these signs.

8. How will you ensure the emergency services/vehicle rescue companies/traffic officers know what driver location signs are?

TO are holding stakeholder events with all the relevant RCC staff, emergency services, vehicle rescue companies and traffic officers so that they are aware of what the signs are and how to use the information on them to the best effect.  Letters will also go out to stakeholders to inform them.

9. Why are more driver location signs being installed?

Phase 1 of the trial included part of the southern section of the M25 and part of the M6 in Cheshire. These were selected to trial the driver location signs in order to determine the effectiveness of longitudinal spacing and size of the signs.

After Phase 1 evaluation of longitudinal spacing and size of the signs, further signs have been installed as Phase 2:

10. Will any more signs be installed?

It is anticipated that further signs will be installed on other routes, in 2007-08.

11. I've seen Driver Location Signs on the M25 and the M6, the signs are of different sizes. Why is this?

The size of the legend on driver location signs depends upon the number of lanes on the route. The larger legend signs are used where the road is a 4 lane motorway or dual carriageway, to ensure readability by road users.

Some of the trial sites are 3 lane motorways, some are 4 lane motorways. As the M25 in many places is 4 lane carriageway in each direction, it was considered that one of the larger legend sizes would be most appropriate for the M25.

12. How far apart are the driver location signs located?

The longitudinal spacing of driver location signs is approximately every 500 metres, in both directions, on the nearside verge. At some locations the spacing is 400 metres or 300 metres to ensure that the signs are not obscured by other signs, structures such as bridges or gantries, or electrical cabinets.

13. Are the distances shown on driver location signs 100% accurate?

The distance shown on a driver location sign is accurate to within 20 metres. The aim is that the driver location sign will be located as close as possible to the distance marker post and therefore the sign will show the same distance as shown on the nearby distance marker post.

14. Aren't traffic signs supposed to be in imperial units, not metric?

For more than 30 years, distance marker posts have been provided at 100 metre intervals along each hard shoulder of motorways. These are used for maintenance purposes (e.g. to enable maintenance contractors to identify exactly where repair works are needed). Also, they show the direction to the nearest motorway emergency phone.

When a driver uses one of the motorway emergency telephones, the RCC operator knows the precise location of the caller. However, with the increased use of mobile telephones by drivers in an emergency, police may not be able to quickly locate the scene of an incident, as drivers sometimes are not sure of their location. Also, on many all purpose roads, there are no emergency telephones. Therefore, at a number of trial sites, both on motorways and on all purpose roads, driver location signs have been erected by the Highways Agency at regular intervals (e.g. every 500 metres in each direction). These traffic signs use the same motorway referencing system as the distance marker posts, to enable the driver to identify, and the emergency services to rapidly locate, the scene of an incident without any confusion. The signs show the route number, the carriageway identifier and the kilometerage.

The EU Directive on units of measurement provide for the continuation in use in the UK of imperial units for road traffic signs, speeds and distance measurement, until a date to be fixed by the UK Government. The EU do not specify a deadline for fixing a date and the Government has no plans to change the imperial units still in use.

The design of the driver location sign was agreed with the Department for Transport in 2003.

15. What happens if I break down in between two signs?

If a driver needs to stop in an emergency, then he/she would follow the standard protocol already in existence. The driver location signs are not replacing the existing distance marker posts (which are positioned every 100 metres) or the emergency telephones, but are being installed as an additional measure, visible from the road by a travelling road user. Currently many road users carry a mobile phone. This can be used safely by a passenger to report an incident without the need to stop the vehicle. The driver location signs will facilitate the passage of accurate location data to the emergency services under these circumstances, resulting in speedier response to the scene by the emergency services.