Starting this week (March 29th), British motorists using the M5 motorway between Bristol and Exeter should expect to see a small but significant change in the road signage along the way.
Specifically, a high-tech new set of signs has been installed to show the price of fuel at nearby service stations in real time, helping drivers make informed decisions about where best to fill up.
Highways England is trialling the technology on the southbound carriageway of the road in collaboration with five motorway service companies, and intends to roll out the signage to other parts of the country if the results are successful.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the scheme, UK roads minister Andrew Jones expressed hope that it would “allow drivers to be much better informed about the cost of fuel and make it easier to plan their breaks around the cheapest deals”.
Andrew Page-Dove, south-west regional director for Highways England, added that the trial would help local transport authorities “provide an improved service … for those millions of people who visit the region each year.”
He noted that of the almost 200,000 breakdowns in the south-west in 2015, some two per cent were the result of motorists running out of fuel.
“This trial is an important part of a bigger picture – we want road users to be more informed and in better control of their journeys,” Mr Page-Dove continued. “This means they’ll be better prepared, more inclined to plan breaks, have sufficient fuel and have a more positive driving experience.”
Highways England currently plans to run the trial until the end of 2017, at which point it should have sufficient data to determine whether or not increasing the transparency of fuel prices affects driver behaviour “including the number of stops made at service areas, [and] the number of fatigue and fuel-related incidents”.
It also plans to measure the effect, if any, of the signage on fuel prices themselves.