Martin Vlietstra, a regular contributor to Metric Views, draws our attention to a trial of driver location signs, to be conducted by the Highways Agency. Martin notes that these signs are metric, and draws attention to the explanation for this.
The Highways Agency (HA) has received funding to conduct trials that involve the erection of 3000 driver location signs (DLS) on Britain’s motorways and trunk roads – see http://www.highways.gov.uk/business/14730.aspx. DLS are blue signs with the following items of information in orange:
*Road Name (e.g. ‘M25’)
*Carriageway (Usually ‘A’ or ‘B’)
The location is the nominal distance of the sign in kilometres from the reference point of the road concerned. In the case of the M25, the reference point is the north bank of the Essex/Kent section of the Thames.
The purpose of the trials is to see whether or not such signs can assist the emergency services in responding more quickly to incidents upon receipt of a call from a mobile phone. A further document http://www.highways.gov.uk/business/16043.aspx discusses DLS from the point of view of responses to incidents.
An update of the specification of Driver Location Signs can be found on the HA website: http://www.highways.gov.uk/business/16039.aspx. This update also includes a link to FAQ, question 14 of which deals with the reason why the signs are in kilometres.
DLS are a welcome addition to our roads, but for them to be really effective, drivers need to understand why they are there. This can be done in a number of simple ways:
* Proper publicity by the HA
* Numbering of Service Areas by reference to the nearest DLS
* Numbering of trunk road exits (and possible motorway exits at a later date) by reference to the nearest DLS. This is the practice in Spain, South Africa and the US.
In Italy, DLS are frequently used to advertise locations of out-of-town establishments, for example, a restaurant that I used when I was working in Italy was advertised as being “on the Via Salaria at km 19.7”.