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Ontario installing 50 high-tech highway signs

New overhead signs on highways will give motorists more and better information to get to their destinations faster, transport minister says
Jan. 20, 2015
By Rob Ferguson

A new generation of electronic highway signs using symbols instead of words will help get motorists to their destinations more efficiently, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says.

The province is replacing about 50 overhead signs with the new, full-colour versions in the next few years with some to be in place in time for the Pan Am Games this summer, he told reporters Tuesday.

Made by Ledstar Inc. in Vaughan, the signs use internationally-recognized symbols and less text to break through language barriers, getting information to drivers quickly about road changes and traffic flow so they can “make their plans accordingly,” Del Duca said.

“There are a number of messages that will be conveyed.”

For example, signs can warn of collisions, lane closures or hazards ahead such as snow, ice or fog, or if there are no hazards to point out can remind motorists to keep their tires inflated properly and signal lane changes.

Information to the signs is sent electronically from the government’s 24-hours traffic operations centre in Downsview by operators monitoring the highway system.

Ledstar makes the signs for governments and other customers all over the world, mainly in the United States, said vice-president Greg Bartlett.

“The use of symbols and graphics are much more easy to understand,” he said. “Regardless of what language, these are universal symbols.”

Electronic signs installed before 2009 cannot be reprogrammed with the new technology but some in place since then can be adapted and upgraded, Del Duca said.