New fuel price signs have been switched on along the M5 motorway near Burnham-On-Sea this week with motorists told they could lead to lower prices.
The real-time price signs provide fuel price information on the southbound carriageway just before Sedgemoor Services at Burnham-On-Sea plus Gordano, Bridgwater, Taunton Deane and Exeter.
Highways England says it is monitoring whether increasing the transparency of fuel prices at motorway service areas has an impact on driver behaviour, including the number of stops made at service areas, the number of fatigue and fuel related incidents, and on fuel pricing.
The AA has welcomed the trial, saying motorway service stations have “a bad reputation for fuel prices.”
South West regional director at Highways England Andrew Page-Dove said: “We’re working hard to help customers feel safe on the network, to make sure their overall experience on England’s motorways and major A roads is a positive one, and trialling these innovative signs in the South West provides an excellent way of helping us provide an improved service, especially for those millions of people who visit the region each year.
“Our traffic officers dealt with 187,928 breakdowns in 2015, many of which could have been avoided through proper planning and preparation – 2% of these breakdowns were a direct result of running out of fuel.
“While this appears at face value to be a small proportion, it amounts to 3,672 occasions where drivers could have avoided the risks associated with breaking down.”
“This trial is an important part of a bigger picture – we want road users to be more informed and in better control of their journeys. This means they’ll be better prepared, more inclined to plan breaks, have sufficient fuel and have a more positive driving experience.”
In a joint statement, the service station companies involved said they had “a mutual interest to improve the journey experience for our customers.”
“The technology to link our fuel prices to the signage has been installed in our premises and we are looking forward to supporting the evaluation of the trial and measuring its impact,” they said.
“This will include sharing important information with Highways England, including fuel sales data, which reflects our commitment to the trial.”
“The working group has been very constructive and it’s been reassuring to see such good collaboration between the public and private sectors. This is enabling what is a fairly complex trial to move forward at a good pace.”
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said in a statement this week: “We know the public has been concerned about the price of petrol at service stations which is why we have acted to create a fairer deal.”
“This trial will allow drivers to be much better informed about the cost of fuel and make it easier to plan their breaks around the cheapest deals.”
The trial of the signs is due to run until the end of 2017 when a decision will be made on whether they are effective.
Pictured: The new M5 fuel price sign just before Sedgemoor Services near Burnham-On-Sea that was switched on this week