10 Jun 2010 12:02 PM
New phone number for Highways Agency Information Line makes savings all round

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 10 June 2010

A new phone number is making it easier and cheaper for the public to get in touch with the Highways Agency, which manages and operates England’s motorways and major A-roads.

The new number 0300 123 5000 is included in all phone packages which means many people will be able to call the Highways Agency for free and everyone else will pay a standard rate.

The Highways Agency Information Line handles more than 150,000 calls a year on topics as varied as real time traffic information, the status of road works and reports of debris or spillages on the carriageway.

Although it has always been a local rate number from a standard BT line, some mobiles and other phone operators charged significantly more.

Not only will customers be able to make a saving from the number change, but the Agency itself will be more efficient because it will no longer be charged more than 5p per minute for receiving each call, as it was using the previous 0845 number.

Steve Crosthwaite, group manager for the Highways Agency contact centre, says:

“The number change is a win for the customer and a win for the Agency as we both save money.”

The new 0300 numbers are reserved for not-for-profit and public sector organisations and mean fairer and more transparent call charges for customers. Calling an 0300 number costs no more than calling a geographic (01 or 02) number and all phone companies are required to include them in inclusive minutes and discount schemes, even on mobiles.

The old Highways Agency 0845 number will be phased out over two years, meaning that there will be no costs for replacing existing publications and road signs. Callers using the old number are now automatically transferred to 0300 123 5000.

All aspects of the service provided by the Highways Agency Information Line, which is available 24 hours of every day, will remain the same.

It is part of a range of information services provided by the Highways Agency to help road users. Details of roadworks, major schemes and other helpful advice can be found on the website www.highways.gov.uk

Live traffic information, collected from cameras and vehicle sensors buried in the road, is provided round the clock to help people plan their journeys and avoid bottlenecks. Road users can get updates from the website, Traffic Radio, overhead message signs, display screens at motorway service areas, a mobile website and iPhone application.

The Highways Agency information covers England’s 4300-mile network of motorways and major A-roads. Although this network is less than three percent of the country’s roads, it handles around a third of all traffic and two-thirds of freight. There are separate authorities responsible for roads in London, Scotland and Wales, while local roads are maintained by local authorities.

Notes to Editors

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available:
- From our Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet at www.trafficradio.org.uk To tune into the DAB service, simply press the "scan" button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach "Traffic Radio".
- From the web at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or www.highways.gov.uk/mobile if using a phone or mobile device.
Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.
- By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT residential landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

3. For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk, or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time (Calls to 0300 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute from a standard BT residential landline. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary, but will be no more than a standard geographic call and will be included in all inclusive minutes and discount schemes).

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Mik Barton.
Phone: 075 5445 8909