Emergency Diversion Route oddities

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SteveA30
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by SteveA30 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 22:51

Diversions don't all happen at the same time. I would imagine there are about 15,000 signs nationwide anyway. The symbols are meaningless to most drivers and therefore pointless. Labelled temporary signs for a specific route are the only effective answer. Leaving them permanently is just laziness.

The M3 night diversions had unlabelled yellow signs at first, identical to local utility diversion signs and around Hook, they pointed in opposite directions. I contacted HE about this and later, M3 Traffic was added to their signs, to clarify things for drivers. Probably no connection but, it may have helped.

Also, some nights were only 4 to 4a and others were from J4-5, yet both sets of very tall framed signs were left up. At the A327 junction, one pointed back to the M3 at 4a when it was a J4-5 diversion. I had to quite correctly and justifiably, push it over into the ditch, not the first time I've had to correct sloppy practice either. I actually could organise these simple things better, as long as I was given powers to do so and could override unhelpful local authorities, which I realise can be a problem.

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Arcuarius » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:25

SteveA30 wrote:The symbols are meaningless to most drivers and therefore pointless.
It doesn't take a lot to educate them. In my Britain, public information films would be used for exactly this kind of purpose.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by nowster » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:01

Conekicker wrote:
nowster wrote:One for the M60: https://goo.gl/maps/yjTFJhqwjx62
So you can go ahead or right and still be on the diversion route.

Which genius thought that design was in any way, shape or form appropriate?
I think it means "Be in the left lane if you're on a diversion route".

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Conekicker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:38

SteveA30 wrote:Diversions don't all happen at the same time. I would imagine there are about 15,000 signs nationwide anyway. The symbols are meaningless to most drivers and therefore pointless. Labelled temporary signs for a specific route are the only effective answer. Leaving them permanently is just laziness.

The M3 night diversions had unlabelled yellow signs at first, identical to local utility diversion signs and around Hook, they pointed in opposite directions. I contacted HE about this and later, M3 Traffic was added to their signs, to clarify things for drivers. Probably no connection but, it may have helped.

Also, some nights were only 4 to 4a and others were from J4-5, yet both sets of very tall framed signs were left up. At the A327 junction, one pointed back to the M3 at 4a when it was a J4-5 diversion. I had to quite correctly and justifiably, push it over into the ditch, not the first time I've had to correct sloppy practice either. I actually could organise these simple things better, as long as I was given powers to do so and could override unhelpful local authorities, which I realise can be a problem.

Think of the users, it is for their benefit.
I suspect you don't understand the logistics involved in deploying temporary signs. Particularly in an emergency situation, which is one of the scenarios these symbols are used for.

Typically an emergency diversion route for a motorway closure will comprise anywhere between 10 to 50 signs. Having the right temporary ones to hand (that's a LOT of signs to store somewhere) is no small undertaking, nor is extracting the right ones from store, driving many miles to the closure point and then driving the diversion route to deploy the signs. All at the same time as your limited staff resource is trying to deal with the incident. Driving the route to deploy the signs will be interesting as well, as diverted traffic will likely be using it already. The works vehicle stopping to deploy discrete signs will have a negative impact on the flow of the diverted traffic.

The alternative is to have these symbols permanently fixed to directional signs on the route, so all that is needed to bring it into use is open the flap signs at the trigger points and the route is instantly usable. As this provision has been made, it's logical to use the system for planned closures as well, as it saves both time and money and reduces worker exposure to live traffic.

"Road closed, follow symbol" - I don't see what's hard to understand there.

The symbols are also language neutral, so foreign drivers should be able to follow them with little difficulty.

The fact that some British drivers don't understand them is not the problem of the highway authority. The fact that some scheme designers can't design a diversion route signing system to save their lives is another matter altogether...
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Bryn666 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:55

The fact that some British drivers don't understand them is not the problem of the highway authority. The fact that some scheme designers can't design a diversion route signing system to save their lives is another matter altogether...
I think the latter is what cripples it, plus the awful way signs are modified. It ruins the message.

Another problem is the official chosen routes are often rubbish at the best of times (why do we think a motorway bypasses it?), and perhaps a more strategic outlook that involves better roads but maybe longer distances could be more effective.

Case in point; any closures on the M65 between J3 and 6 cause traffic carnage in Blackburn; why there isn't a strategic diversion via the A59/A677/A6119 instead that would bypass the worst of it I cannot fathom. Yes, I know more entry points would have to be closed for this to work and there's a resource issue, but that's where local authorities and Highways England SHOULD be working together (ha, that's unlikely).
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Conekicker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 13:13

Bottom line is resources. In an emergency situation you can't guarantee to have enough. By the time you've scraped enough together, the incident is often over anyway.

Closing multiple junctions before the final closure point would just cause chaos over a wider area as traffic struggled to find a way to it's destination. Usually a non-starter but there are places where traffic is diverted off before the final point.

Least worst solution is to close the minimum amount of road as possible and accept that the diversion route (depending on the time of day) will be stuffed to some degree.

Of course, making improvements at potential/actual choke points on the diversion route would be a good thing - but no one thinks that deeply about the situation.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Johnathan404 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 13:14

I think the system was a great idea, but it has been let down by inconsistent, unclear and even incorrect signage, not to mention untidy. Case in point: follow hollow squares

I've been diverted from motorways many times (mostly for roadworks rather than emergencies) and have never once been told to follow any shapes.
Last edited by Johnathan404 on Thu Oct 05, 2017 16:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Stevie D » Thu Oct 05, 2017 16:27

Bryn666 wrote:Another problem is the official chosen routes are often rubbish at the best of times (why do we think a motorway bypasses it?), and perhaps a more strategic outlook that involves better roads but maybe longer distances could be more effective.

Case in point; any closures on the M65 between J3 and 6 cause traffic carnage in Blackburn; why there isn't a strategic diversion via the A59/A677/A6119 instead that would bypass the worst of it I cannot fathom. Yes, I know more entry points would have to be closed for this to work and there's a resource issue, but that's where local authorities and Highways England SHOULD be working together (ha, that's unlikely).
That makes things massively more complicated though. The system as designed tries to get traffic back to the motorway at the first convenient opportunity. So, for example, westbound traffic on the M62 that is taken off at Ferrybridge will be sent north on the A1(M), west on the A63 then south on the M1 to re-join the M62 at Lofthouse. There are three local junctions that are missed out, but nothing too significant, and traffic intending to leave at any of those junctions should be able to muddle through. But the more strategic you want your diversion to be, the more junctions will be missed out – potentially some before the closure and some after – and that starts to make the signs more complex.

It can be done, using VMSs. When the M1 was closed somewhere around Luton, I saw VMSs saying "For London, use A43 & M40" from Leicesterish, which enabled long-distance traffic to be sent on an appropriate diversion, albeit probably not one that was signed with symbols but nevertheless was easy enough to follow, and then not-so-long-distance traffic could follow the local diversion symbols around the closure without causing carnage on the local road network. In the same vein, at Dishforth there are rotating prism signs that can direct long-distance traffic via A168/A19 if there are problems on the A1(M).

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by nowster » Thu Oct 05, 2017 17:22

Even the people running the "diversion shapes" scheme don't fully understand it. There was one who visited here who didn't realise that "X" was a shape that was in use (eg. A1 southbound diversion over A14/M11).

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by SteveA30 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 20:02

It seems that closer co-ordination between the various agencies is needed. Closer attention to nightly changes for overnight works as well. Marking the portable signs with the M number, distinguishes them from the local diversions that may also be active on the same route and avoids contradictory information.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Conekicker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 21:02

SteveA30 wrote:It seems that closer co-ordination between the various agencies is needed. Closer attention to nightly changes for overnight works as well. Marking the portable signs with the M number, distinguishes them from the local diversions that may also be active on the same route and avoids contradictory information.
In theory the co-ordination already happens. It can never be foolproof though. It's quite rare for two or more diversions to be present in the same locality at the same time. Whoever is placing the second set of signs out should spot the first set and raise it with their supervisor. In theory.

If the symbols are fixed to the permanent signs in a mostly compliant manner, (fully compliant is a pipe dream due to costs unfortunately), there's no need for "Mnn diverted traffic" signs. Indeed using them if plain "Diverted traffic" signs for another diversion are also present in the vicinity must be more likely to cause confusion than symbols, which bear no resemblance to the yellow worded signs.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by KeithW » Thu Oct 05, 2017 21:10

Johnathan404 wrote:I think the system was a great idea, but it has been let down by inconsistent, unclear and even incorrect signage, not to mention untidy. Case in point: follow hollow squares

I've been diverted from motorways many times (mostly for roadworks rather than emergencies) and have never once been told to follow any shapes.
In 40 years of driving I have NEVER been able to actually follow a signed diversion route. At some point I always came to a junction where there was no sign. I always ended up pulling over, looking at a map and picking my own route.

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by ais523 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 23:49

nowster wrote:Even the people running the "diversion shapes" scheme don't fully understand it. There was one who visited here who didn't realise that "X" was a shape that was in use (eg. A1 southbound diversion over A14/M11).
That one was added very recently (2016), and last I checked, TSRGD 2016 hadn't been publicised anywhere (SABRE discussed it, but a typical road user wouldn't check here). So the "new" TSRGD 2016 signs are unlikely to have been learnt by most motorists, and perhaps many sign designers too.

It's much more common for drivers to check publications like "Know Your Traffic Signs" (which is the Government document on the subject intended for road users, and is listed alongside the Highway Code on the Government's website). It doesn't have the X symbol listed yet (just the other 8; see page 107). So where are people meant to find out about this sort of change? We can't expect everyone to read the TSRGD.

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Conekicker » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:01

ais523 wrote:
nowster wrote:Even the people running the "diversion shapes" scheme don't fully understand it. There was one who visited here who didn't realise that "X" was a shape that was in use (eg. A1 southbound diversion over A14/M11).
That one was added very recently (2016), and last I checked, TSRGD 2016 hadn't been publicised anywhere (SABRE discussed it, but a typical road user wouldn't check here). So the "new" TSRGD 2016 signs are unlikely to have been learnt by most motorists, and perhaps many sign designers too.

It's much more common for drivers to check publications like "Know Your Traffic Signs" (which is the Government document on the subject intended for road users, and is listed alongside the Highway Code on the Government's website). It doesn't have the X symbol listed yet (just the other 8; see page 107). So where are people meant to find out about this sort of change? We can't expect everyone to read the TSRGD.
There's nothing to find out. If the road you're travelling on is closed and you see a sign telling you to follow an "X" in very close proximity to the closure point, I fail to see how even the dimmest of drivers wouldn't understand what to do.
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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by ais523 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:34

It doesn't explain what the X means when you aren't following a diversion, though. As it happens, you can ignore it, but without anything specifying what the sign means, how do you know to ignore it?

Note that some other uses of an X (e.g. the "red X" on motorways) are very important!

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Stevie D » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:09

ais523 wrote:It doesn't explain what the X means when you aren't following a diversion, though. As it happens, you can ignore it, but without anything specifying what the sign means, how do you know to ignore it?
The emergency diversion symbols have been part of UK road signage for years, and drivers should know what they mean ... as in "most of the time you can ignore these yellow symbols but if a motorway is closed then you'll be told which one to follow". Drivers don't need to specifically know that the standard set is 8 symbols comprising hollow and filled squares, circles, triangles and diamonds ... they just need to recognise the format. If a cross is used for a Thames crossing diversion and it looks broadly the same format as the others then there is no confusion for drivers, because hardly any of them would know that it wasn't part of the standard set to start with.

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by nowster » Sun Oct 08, 2017 13:24

ais523 wrote:
nowster wrote:Even the people running the "diversion shapes" scheme don't fully understand it. There was one who visited here who didn't realise that "X" was a shape that was in use (eg. A1 southbound diversion over A14/M11).
That one was added very recently (2016)...
That route's been around for a good few years longer than that!

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by KeithW » Sun Oct 08, 2017 16:12

Stevie D wrote:
ais523 wrote:It doesn't explain what the X means when you aren't following a diversion, though. As it happens, you can ignore it, but without anything specifying what the sign means, how do you know to ignore it?
The emergency diversion symbols have been part of UK road signage for years, and drivers should know what they mean ... as in "most of the time you can ignore these yellow symbols but if a motorway is closed then you'll be told which one to follow". Drivers don't need to specifically know that the standard set is 8 symbols comprising hollow and filled squares, circles, triangles and diamonds ... they just need to recognise the format. If a cross is used for a Thames crossing diversion and it looks broadly the same format as the others then there is no confusion for drivers, because hardly any of them would know that it wasn't part of the standard set to start with.
Nice theory but every time I have tried to use the diversions I have come to a roundabout or tee junction where there either is no sign at all or a different symbol. Here is a classic example. It was a November evening and I was heading from Wardsley Business Park to Preston. There was an accident on the M61 so we were diverted North up the M61 Kearsley Spur. At the first junction the diversion is fine nicely signed.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.54415 ... authuser=0

OK so I drive along the A5082 and all is well until I hit this roundabout.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.54130 ... authuser=0

Where am I supposed to go now, its dark, traffic is heavy and I dont know the area so I follow the main flow. Then I come to another roundabout with no signs WTF ! I guessed correctly and take the second exit following the route where a few hundred metres on it passes over the motorway - looks promising. Now I know I need to make a right soon and just ahead is another roundabout with no signs at all WTF squared.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.53747 ... authuser=0

I take a right and end up at the entrance to a closed car park. At this point I think to hell with this and pull my map out and realise what I need to do is keep following the A5082 until I can hang a right at the A6 and I am home free as at worst I can slog up the A6 the whole way.

So we have a 3.5 mile diversion through a urban area with multiple junctions and precisely 4 diversion signs one of which was totally superfluous as the diversion route clearly would not go through a Tesco car park !

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Stevie D » Sun Oct 08, 2017 16:59

KeithW wrote:Now I know I need to make a right soon and just ahead is another roundabout with no signs at all WTF squared.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.53747 ... authuser=0
So you took an unsigned turn along a road that was too minor even to merit a junction sign, rather than following the main road straight ahead, and that's the sign's fault rather than yours? What about if you had just been following regular direction signs and they disappeared at a junction, would you chance a right-turn anyway?

The problem there is that a junction didn't have a permanent road sign. That is a problem in itself. The fact that the diversion signs were missing is a side effect of there being a regular sign missing. In your fantasy world where we have full-sized diversion signs with complete legends for every diversionary route, there would probably still have been the same signs missing, if not more.

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Re: Emergency Diversion Route oddities

Post by Johnathan404 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 17:14

I think it's fair to say that people following diverted traffic signs are like fish out of water, and expect more guidance than they might expect normally. If they go a short period without seeing any repeaters they will panic and assume they've missed their exit.

The reality is that for all sorts of practical reasons diversion signage of all kinds is usually smaller, less frequent and more prone to having gaps in it.
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