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Read the signs: How route markers can help motorists in a bind

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What are blue and white and are found along the sides of South Africa’s highways?

We have all seen them, and although many of us may have fleetingly wondered what they were about,  most of us already have enough on our minds to stop thinking about them altogether. This is may prove unfortunate because there could come a time when you will need the critical information on them them.

Route markers a ‘font of information’

If a road has an “N” (national road) designation attached to it, these little boards come into their own when you need help or if you want to know where you are.  

Planted by Sanral, these route markers are a font of information. Each marker contains two rows of information. Let’s start from the top:

  • Top left — Tells you which route you are travelling on ( eg N3)
  • Top right — Provides the section of the route you are on (eg 2)
  • Bottom left –Your kilometre position on the route section (15.0)
  • Bottom right — The direction of travel (W, etc)
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Cool, now you know. So what?

Lifesavers when you need help in a hurry

Well, they come in handy and can be lifesavers when you need help in a hurry.

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Tell an operator that you have an emergency, and you are on the N3, section 5, 15km in and travelling west, and you will enable help to get to you fast.

It is a bit better than telling someone that you left a refuelling stop about 15 minutes ago and are travelling towards Durban between Warden and Harrismith. With a brief that wide open, an emergency crew have to scour the roadside for you- a problem when time is of the essence.

Route markers 200 metres apart

The good thing is that the markers on our national roads are just 200 metres apart. Even if your car breaks down between two signs, you don’t have far to walk to get a reference point. 

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The other thing to remember is that if the national road is undivided (single lane each way), the markers appear on one side only. On routes where there is a median dividing carriageway, they appear on both sides of the road.

Even if you don’t have an emergency, the route markers are useful if you need to go to someone else’s aid or call out emergency services for them. 

It’s one of those nice bits of travelling info that should be kept mentally filed away when you travel along a national road. 

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