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Speaking in praise of multilingual signage

  • Tuesday September 10, 2019

(Pictured:Alongside the westbound A66 near Penrith: (l-r) Jobert Fermilan, Keith Brown from HW Martin – one of the specialist suppliers supporting the pilot project – and Highways England senior project manager Steve Mason)

IHE Council member and Highways England project manager Jobert Fermilan has been leading on the introduction of electronic message signs, which have gone multilingual in a ground breaking initiative to improve roadworks information for lorry drivers.

Highways England has started giving roadworks information in nine foreign languages on several of its portable electronic variable messages signs.

The system works with an automatic number plate reader in the side of the road warning the electronic sign that a foreign lorry is approaching and the sign then selects an appropriate foreign language message such as ‘M6 J.44 Cerrado’ – ‘closed’ in Spanish.

It is believed to be the first time in the UK that electronic signs have been used in this way to get information to continental truckers. The pilot is taking place in Cumbria where £7m of improvements are taking place along the M6 north of Carlisle.

The latest phase of the work is focused on the roundabout at busy junction 44 of the motorway and lorry drivers are being warned in German, French, Polish, Romanian, Dutch, Spanish, Lithuanian, Slovak and Hungarian when the roundabout is closed for the overnight work.

Highways England carried out major improvements along the A66 near Penrith last year and while the communications and diversion routes worked well, there was some feedback from
Cumbria Police that foreign lorry drivers were missing some of the messaging. This not only inconvenienced the drivers but also local communities as lorries were sent on inappropriate diversion

Taking that learning on board it is hoped providing tailored messaging for foreign lorry drivers will improve everyone’s experience of these roadworks.


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