Here in the UK, it appears our Highways Agency has caught on to the idea of Twitter. In recent years, we’ve had overhead digital display boards installed along the majority of our motorways. The displays can show a limited number of characters, so messages have to be short. Originally, they were to be used for traffic updates, to help warn of and/or avoid congestion, such as:

‘Accident on M1. Use M6’

‘Queue after next junction’

Then they started giving you advice about the weather:

‘Fog! Slow down’

To be fair, one of the motorways (M40) is very susceptible to patchy fog – one minute you have bright sunshine, the next you can’t see the car in front.

Then we started getting general traffic updates:

’16 minutes to Junction 8′

Utterly useless when you have no idea how many miles it is to Junction 8 on the M6. The controller of the boards on the M40 is a little brighter:

‘To Junction 5, 16 miles, 16 minutes’

And then the Twitter messages started to appear:

‘Tired? Take a break’

The current favourite:

‘Check your fuel levels’

Somebody needs to remind the people in charge that every time we read the sign we are not watching the road. It’s a matter of time before the signs are blamed for causing an accident. They were meant to be used occasionally for alerts, not to continuously tweet driving instructions. What next? ‘Service your car regularly’, ‘Check your tax disc?’, ‘Test your brakes’ (hmmm, that one could cause trouble). And the continuous use of the displays for general messages means we will start to ignore them and not notice when there really is an alert on display…

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The technology was installed for a reason. Using it for other purposes risks eliminating its benefits.

Technorati tag: Twitter


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the post Sharon.All things must be used in moderation…otherwise it looses value!

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