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There are two kinds of British highway route markers - location marker posts and driver location signs. Location marker posts have been used since the advent of the first motorways while the first driver location signs were erected in 2007. Both markers display the same information but while location marker posts are for administrative purposes, driver location markers are designed to be read at speed. These posts and signs use metric distances, although traditional UK road signs continue to display miles, yards, feet, and inches.

Location Marker Posts

Major roads have location marker posts every 100 metres. These posts, which are used for administrative purposes are not designed to be used by the general public. The digits on the posts give the distance in kilometres from a reference point such as the centre of a city, an administrative boundary or some other point. Marker posts on motorways also have arrows that point to the closest emergency telephone. The marker post in the picture is on a trunk road, not a motorway and hence has no arrow. It is however unusual in that it displays the highway identifier (A38) and carriageway identifier (A) in addition to the location identification (415.0).

Driver Location Signs

The location denoted by location marker posts was encoded into the numbers associated with motorway emergency roadside telephones. In this way the motorway control centre staff can quickly and accurately identify the location of the telephone from which the caller was reporting an incident.

By the early 2000s mobile phones were being used as the primary means of reporting accidents.This required the government to rethink marker posts and by early 2007, after experiments on parts of the M25marker and M6 which showed a 10% improvement in emergency service response times, a program to erect driver location signs was commenced in England (but at the time of writing, not in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland), at about 500 metre intervals on many motorways. By the end of the 2008/9 financial year, a total of 16,000 driver location signs, covering 80% of England's motorway network had been erected at a cost of £5.9 million. It was expected that the remaining 20% of the motorway network would be covered by the end of the 2009/10 financial year at a cost of £1.6 million.

Driver location signs have three pieces of information:

  • The road identifier
  • The carriageway identifier
  • The location

The location is identical to the location given on marker posts. The most commonly used carriageway identifiers are the letters “A”, “B”, “J”, “K”, “L” and “M”.

The letter “A” normally denotes the carriageways leaving London (or clockwise in the case of the M25) and "B" is used for the opposite carriageway. Location numbers usually (but not always ) increase in the direction of travel of the "A" carriageway, and decrease in the direction of travel of the “B” the carriageway. The letters “J”, “K”, “L” and “M” denote junction slip roads. This is illustrated below.

Usual Carriageway Identifiers used on Driver location signs

There are a few apparent anomalies, for example the carriageways of the M26 are denoted "K" and "L" respectively. This lettering would be consistent if the M26 were a slip road linking the M20 to the M25, but not if it were a motorway in its own right.


  1. For example the M32

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