UK’s first multilingual electronic road signs target foreign truck drivers and help keep our roads open
Information signs are being displayed in different languages on an approach to the M6 in Cumbria to help lorry drivers from overseas. The portable electronic messages have been placed along the A66 and A69 to near Carlisle to warn of overnight junction closures, and reduce the risk of drivers causing mayhem by taking the wrong routes.
An automatic number plate reader identifies the vehicle’s origin, so the appropriate language can be flashed up. It is thought to be the first time such signs have been used in the UK.
The languages used are Spanish, German, French, Polish, Romanian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Slovak and Hungarian.
VPS Security Solutions have linked their Smart Alert Towers, fitted with APNR cameras, to mobile variable message signs that can flash up messages about road closures, diversions, accident or other traffic data to drivers in nine languages.
Phil Bunting, a director of VPS, said: “The number of foreign HGV drivers on UK roads has soared by almost 50 per cent in the past few years. Whilst the use of satellite navigation makes it simple for foreign drivers to navigate throughout the UK, if, however, there is a road closure or diversion, things can start to get difficult reading worded road signs. In many cases, English isn’t going to be foreign drivers’ first language. With this in mind VPS has developed a solution to overcome a challenging safety concern.”
Andy Leigh, Head of Highways Technology Sales, added: “As part of VPS’ Smartzone Safety System, integrating technologies enables us to deliver a whole raft of intelligent traffic solutions such as these foreign language variable message signs. In another innovation, last year we helped prevent low-bridge strikes in the same region using electronic goalposts to forewarn over-height vehicles during roadwork diversions.”
Steve Mason, from Highways England, said: “We carried out major improvements along the A66 near Penrith last year and while the communications and diversion routes worked well, we had some feedback from Cumbria Police that foreign lorry drivers were missing some of the messaging.”
*Ausfarht is Exit in German, Otwarty is Open in Polish and Wegversperring is Road Block in Dutch