Colour-coded motorway signs to help motorists plan their journeys

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 30, 2019

The new motorway signs use colour to show if today‘s journey will take as long as previous days so motorists can plan ahead.

Auckland motorists will be able to make better-informed journeys on the network, thanks to a technology upgrade to the motorway messaging system.

The NZ Transport Agency has installed 150 new electronic information screens on the approaches to Auckland‘s motorways that are colour capable. The new Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) will show motorists their estimated journey times and how that compares to historical data.

“As well as showing how long it will take to get to a destination, the new VMS display will also put that in context, showing if the current journey will be slower than average,” says NZTA‘s Auckland system manager, Andrea Williamson.

“It‘s a way of optimising technology to improve the customer experience and give them reliable up-to-date information so they can plan ahead.”

Williamson says motorists can make informed decisions about their journey, and based on the real-time information displayed, they may choose to postpone meetings, take a rest stop, or even choose an alternative route.

Introduction of the colour-coded VMS is in two stages. Previously the signs displayed destinations and an estimate of the journey time in amber font. On 5 April this year, the amber font changed to white on all the Auckland-based journey time VMS. From this week, the destinations will be in white and the estimated journey time will be displayed in amber, red or white.

The displayed journey time is the current journey time. The colour codes are based on the difference between the current displayed journey time and the expected normal journey time for that time of day. The normal journey time is derived from a 12-week running average for that time of day.

Journey times will show in:

  • white font if the actual journey time is within 50% of the expected normal journey time.
  • amber font if the journey time will take longer than usual (more than 50% longer than the average journey).
  • red font if the journey time will take much longer than the average (more than 100% longer than the average journey).

The new VMS signs replace and upgrade older signs. They use LED lighting, which has clearer resolution and better energy efficiency than the old VMS signs.