Highways England plans to make it easier for disabled motorists to use UK motorways and A-roads.
More than 100 service areas will be assessed on the accessibility of parking, toilets, petrol stations, shops and restaurants.
Watford Gap motorway service area has already been assessed and the plan is to launch 113 Virtual Access Guides on England’s motorway service areas in early 2021.
The guides will include 360-degree imagery so disabled motorists can see in advance the route to facilities such as accessible toilets.
The initiative is part of a collaboration between Highways England and the AccessAble app, which gives disabled motorists information on thousands of venues across the UK and Ireland.
AccessAble director David Livermore called it a “groundbreaking initiative”.
He explained: “This project will not only give people all the information they need to plan a trip but also support Highways England and Motorway Service Operations to see how facilities could be improved in the future.”
The access guides will be available free of charge both via the AccessAble app and on the Access Able website.
Highways England is also updating its costumer contact centre to allow anyone who is a British Sign Language user to use SignLive to communicate with the organisation.
The free service connects deaf users with a professional BSL interpreter; they will contact Highways England on their behalf and then translate the conversion.
Around 150,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language as their main means of communication.
Both initiatives have come from Highways England’s Roads for All Forum, which was established in 2018.
This brings together people from a wide range of organisations that help represent disabled motorists, including Motability, Disability Rights UK, RAC, Disabled Motoring UK and Driving Mobility.
Nearly one in four people has a disability and disabled motorists represent five percent of the driving population.