Drivers on a busy motorway are to become the first to get digital picture messages on overhead electronic signboards, it has been announced.
Known as pictograms, the messages are being brought in this week on an 11-mile stretch of the M42 in the West Midlands.
Five different pictograms will help warn drivers of dangers ahead including accidents, congestion, snow or ice, high winds or an increased skid risk.
The internationally recognisable signs will also make it easier for foreign drivers to understand the warnings.
The 11-mile stretch comprises an active traffic management area which allows motorists to drive on the hard shoulder during busy periods.
Highways Agency traffic operations director Derek Turner said: ‘This is the first time we have used these latest generation signs with pictograms to get helpful and up-to-date information out to drivers and I am pleased that those in the West Midlands are the first to benefit.’
The Highways Agency said that the scheme had been a clear success, with the first six months’ results showing significant benefits for motorists, the environment and the economy.
The agency said use of the hard shoulder in peak periods saw average journey times fall by more than a quarter on the northbound carriageway and drivers’ ability to predict their weekday journey times improved by 27%.
Alongside these results, fuel consumption reduced by 4% and vehicle emissions fell by up to 10%.
Importantly, road safety was not compromised, with the personal injury accident rate falling from an average 5.2 per month to 1.5 per month on this section of the M42.
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