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 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

Foreign road signs