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RAC Editorial

How to read motorway location signs

19 Nov 2010 at 15:05

Location signs have now been installed on 98% of the motorway network and on some A-roads. They are there to let you know and describe exactly where you are when an incident happens.

If you need to report an incident, debris or a breakdown, it's important that you can describe accurately where you are.

The signs are designed to be visible from the road whilst travelling and to identify your precise location so you (using a hands-free kit) or your passenger can report an incident accurately without having to stop the vehicle.

Use the information on the sign to tell the emergency services, breakdown service or Highways Agency Traffic Officer about the location.

Reporting information on the motorway:

  • To report a road traffic incident/collision call 999 or 112
  • To report debris call the Highways Agency Information Line 0300 123 5000
  • To report a breakdown call RAC on 0800 82 82 82 (RAC Members) or 0800 197 7815 (if you aren't an RAC Member)

Direction of travel

The letter on the second line of the signs tells the emergency services or the Highways Agency which direction you are travelling in.

On the M25, 'A' indicates clockwise on the main carriageway and 'B' anticlockwise.

On other Motorways 'A' is generally used to indicate northbound or 'Away' from London and 'B' southbound or 'Back' to London.

On spur roads or motorway sliproads you will see J, K, L or M depending on direction and location.


Distances are accurate to within 20 metres and are generally quoted from the beginning of the motorway. On the M25 distances are measured clockwise from the Dartford crossing.


Location signs will be located on the near side verge of the road at every 500m though this may be reduced in some locations to avoid locating a sign underneath a bridge, for example, where it cannot be seen easily.


Highways Agency -

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