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Motorway dashboard warnings trial on London to Dover A2/M2

By Rachael Woods

Roads in Kent will be the first in the country to trial technology where motorway warnings will be transmitted directly to drivers' dashboards.

Testing will begin on the London to Dover A2 and M2 route, where ITS-G5 technology, which allows lots of data to be sent between devices at super-fast speeds, will advise drivers of speed limits, end of motorway warnings and traffic updates.

The technology is central to developing the driverless car, but the idea is also to reduce the proliferation of signs with drivers sometimes facing an onslaught of information from overhead gantries, coupled with numerous road signs.

Dashboard warnings could tell drivers where traffic is building up (3327504)
Dashboard warnings could tell drivers where traffic is building up (3327504)

Highways England has just announced the trial, which could cost up to £15m, will begin at the end of the year.

The system is already being trialled in Europe - and Dover could provide the ideal testing ground for determining the ability of the technology to communicate with foreign drivers' systems.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation said: “One of the key features of these trials for places such as Kent with a huge throughput of cross-Channel traffic is their ability to test whether systems can be set up so that messages can be received and understood not just by UK motorists but by drivers wherever they are from in continental Europe.”

The end of road signs?
The end of road signs?

The RAC has welcomed the technology, while stressing it remains in its infancy.

Spokesman Pete Williams said: “This is technology which may, in the future, ultimately serve to reduce the volume and complexity of road signage. But, if adopted, it will be many years before this is commonplace in people’s cars. It will also be vital that drivers can trust the information that is provided to them, regardless of how it is delivered to them.

“However, the issue of confusing signage is impacting drivers today – for instance, on roads heading to the ports it can be particularly confusing with drivers who are unfamiliar with these specific roads, or indeed for foreign drivers arriving in the UK.”

Mike Wilson, safety, engineering and standards executive director for Highways England, said: "Having the technology in place to allow vehicles to connect to each other and the road around them has the potential to improve journeys, making them safer and more reliable by providing real-time, personalised information directly to the driver. It could also help us manage traffic and respond to incidents.

"The A2/M2 trial will test and demonstrate how this may work in the real world. We are delighted to be jointly funding and part of this international project."

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