This page aims to give a non-technical guide to the different types of signs used to advise drivers of an upcoming motorway service area on the Irish motorway network.
This sign is usually placed near the start of a motorway. It lists the available on-line services in reverse-order, their distance, and a sample of the facilities available (badly patched in this example).
If there are no on-line services available, the sign will explain this and list the junctions where any off-line facilities are available. To reduce clutter, the Irish and English text would then be displayed on separate signs. The M11, which has on-line and off-line services, simply says "services ahead at" and gives the junction numbers for them all.
In 2018 all Irish motorway services gained this 5km advance warning sign for official, on-line services. It uses white-on-blue symbols.
Symbols available on this and the subsequent signs are fuel, garage repairs, telephone, public toilets, refreshments, restaurant, picnic area, accommodation and information point - up to a maximum of six.
The main purpose of the sign is to remind drivers of the distance to the next one, which is often larger than you might expect in the rest of Europe.
Also in 2018 a 'tiredness kills' sign was placed about 2km away from each service area. It was inspired by the. Away from motorways, green versions of this sign are used.
The remark has been made that it is identical in format to the signs used when entering a town.
One of the older signs added when motorway services first opened was the 1km sign. It uses black-on-white symbols and has space for a reminder about the distance to the next service area.
Curiously, the sample drawing for this and the 500m sign uses Gorey, despite it not opening until many years after the signs were drawn.
The following sign should provide information on the petrol facilities available and their prices. It is remotely updated.
The final verge-side sign is at 500m, reminding drivers of the facilities available.
In common with other Irish motorways, above the start of the off ramp is a final reminder of the facilities available, displayed on a gantry.
Beyond this, directions to the actual facilities may be provided in white-on-blue until the end of motorway sign, and then in black-on-white beyond that.
The distinction between everyday facilities ("services") and an actual service area available off-line appears to be vague, but distance and paperwork appear to be key factors.
Standard facilities ("services") have signs directing people off the motorway and towards them, like you would expect from information for visitors. Official, off-line services have exactly the same signs but with the heading "Services". The sign is normally placed 750m from the exit (but varied to suit) and has space for five symbols, plus a note if the petrol station is open 24 hours.
Once off the motorway, white-on-brown signs should continue to direct motorists to the facilities.