Market Updates

Application of Variable Messaging Signs in Real-Time Traffic Management

February, 2019

Managing traffic in real-time is a high-priority in various developed and developing countries; continued increasing number of vehicles on the road and managing the seamless movement of traffic appears to be the biggest problem in cities across the world. However, with the advent of technology solutions and IoT devices, traffic management can be simplified. The inclusion of information technology in traffic management has given rise to the concept of Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS). Intelligent Traffic Management System is not software rather it’s an amalgamation of many tools, devices, software and applications, along with variable message signages (VMS) which works in sync to assist the manual traffic management process.  Recently, in 2019, the state department of transportation in St. Lawrence County, the U.S., has deployed an additional 50 portable variable message signs to enhance storm messaging to the public on key corridors throughout the state, as a complex winter storm containing heavy snow, ice and high winds is expected. In addition, the U.K. government in Keighley town is planning to install permanent digital variable message signs in 2019 to improve the information available to drivers in the area, after months of traffic disruption due to road widening project.

These digital-powered variable message signages have long been used in traffic management but with the new technology development, it has become more diversified and multi-functional. Variable message signs are popular by various names like Dynamic message Signs, Metrix Sings or Changeable message Sings.

Application of Variable Message Signs (VMS): Variable message signs (VMS) primary objective is to inform the driver about the traffic, road and parking conditions among other information, however, with changing times, the variable message signs have also changed and now it has multiple application such as:

  • Variable message signs indicate driver about traffic congestion, road works, alternate routes, weather conditions, time, date, speed limits, among other information. variable message signs can also be used as parking guidance system.

  • VMS can be used to inform about the exit ramp closures

  • VMS can be used to inform about speed limits at the construction sites where heavy vehicles and trucks are deployed at work

  • Variable message signs can be used to indicate travel time on freeways

  • VMS can be used to display road surface failure alerts


Conclusion: All-in-all today’s traffic management will be incomplete without the aid of variable message signs in the Intelligent Traffic Management System. These digital-powered variable message signages are compact, comprehensive ways to manage the traffic without much effort and errors. With the assistance of real-time information system, the variable message signs have become even more sophisticated and multi-functional in traffic management.

- Pradeep Singh
Senior Research Analyst
Infoholic Research LLP