National Traffic Control Centre to use automatic number plate recognition to warn drivers on the M25 of traffic delays.

Traffic delays and other travel information are set to be displayed in real-time on electronic roadsides signs down the M25 around London.

Following a trial in the West Midlands and South West, 89 per cent of surveyed drivers said the real-time messages were a good idea. The area covered by the message service now includes the M25, as well the M6 and parts of the M5.

The National Traffic Control Centre system uses automatic number plate recognition cameras, taking a snapshot and comparing it to previous data for that part of the motorway, updating the signs to new travel times every five minutes. The signs can also be used to show safety messages or other warnings.

“We are making best use of our technology to help drivers find out about traffic conditions on their route both before they leave and during their journey,” said roads minister Tom Harris in a statement. “Displaying journey times on our electronic signs gives drivers greater certainty about the time it will take to get them to their destinations. It also helps them to consider options such as changing their route or taking a break if there are traffic delays on the road ahead.”

The Highways Agency is also set to launch its own digital traffic radio station as well as making CCTV pictures of major roads available to the public and media by spring of 2008.