Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Gantry Signs

Now that I am not working in London anymore I have a much quicker commute, assuming there are no problems on the roads. So while I might not get as much reading done as I used to with over two hours on the train each day, I do get to spend more time at home which is brilliant.

But what about when there are issues on the roads?

I am lucky that most of my route to and from work is on nice fast roads and although they can can get a bit busy they are normally pretty good.

However a couple of times now the massive gantry signs have been lit up, not with the normal signs of ‘Queues on slip road’ but with ‘Delay after A247’ or even ‘Road closed after A333’.

Now these signs are useful to a point, but do require you to know the road numbers. As the road goes all the way from Portsmouth to Central London that is quite a lot of roads that must connect with it, which have nothing to do with my journey. Now if it says M25 I know I do not have to worry, but where exactly is the A333? I cannot look this up in the car! And I find it hard enough to remember the numbers for the roads I do use, never mind ones I do not.

I do not think it would take much to make these signs more useful - just by adding the name of the nearest place to that road under the main message - for instance ‘Road Closed after A333 (Hindhead)’.

Bingo, I might not know exactly which road it is but I can now decide if it is likely to affect me and start to make plans for alternative routes.

Obviously the size of these signs create some constraints, and too much information is not useful as it can distract drivers trying to make out the message, however I do think that just the addition of one word would do more to help drivers than hinder them.

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