Design and Installation of Roadside Help Phones

Document No:  D12#402897
Revision:  3B
Date amended:  05-Mar-2014

Image: orange line.RCN-D13^23151823.GIF


The information below is intended to reflect the preferred practice of Main Roads Western Australia ("Main Roads"). Main Roads reserves the right to update this information at any time without notice. If you have any questions or comments please contact Bita Charehjoo by e-mail or on (08) 9323 4439.

To the extent permitted by law, Main Roads, its employees, agents, authors and contributors are not liable for any loss resulting from any action taken or reliance made by you on the information herein displayed.


Revision Register


Ed/Version Number Clause Number Description of Revision Date
  1 All Guideline Developed. 07-Apr-2003 
  1A Header, Appendix A Guideline Contact Amended. Drawing 9320-2806 removed. Drawing 9220-670 amended. 11-Mar-2006
  1B 3.3.3, Appendix A Drawing 9220-670 amended. 18-Aug-2006
  1C 3.2.1, 3.3.2 Appendix A Figure 1 and Figure 2 replaced. Drawing 9220-0160 amended.


  1D 1.2.2, 2.2, 3.2.1 & 5 Specification 702 updated. Drawing 9320-2806 removed. Figure 2 amended. 07-Oct-2006
  1E 1.2.2, 3.3.3 & 5 Specification 702 updated. 12-Oct-2006
  2 All Guideline Revised and Approved. 21-Jun-2007
  2A 6 & Appendix  A Drawing 9220-0160 amended. 06-Sep-2007
  2B 2.2, 4.4, 6.1 & 9 Relinked to Updated Specifications 701 & 702. 12-Sep-2007
  2C 4.4 Relinked to Updated Specification 701. 27-Sep-2007
  2D 3.2.1 & 6 Amendments to Figure 1 & 2.Amendment to Clause No. 6. 15-Mar-2008
  2E 4.4 Specification 701 updated. 23-Jun-2009
  2F 6 & Appendix A Drawing 9220-0160 amended. 10-Feb-2012
  ​2G ​4.4.3 & Appendix A ​"Emergency Stopping Bays" added. Drawing 200731-0003 added. ​08-Aug-2012
  3 ​All ​"Emergency Telephones" were replaced with "Roadside Help Phones". 25-Jan-2013​ ​ ​ ​
​Clause 1.1 ​"Customer Contact Centre" replaced with " Customer Information Centre".
​Clause 3.2.1 ​Last Bullet Point added.
​Step 1.1 ​Rural requirements added.
Step 1.5
Tunnel Connection arrangement added.
Clause 4

Clause 4.4

Clause 4.4.1 
Clause 4.4.2
Clause 5
Clause 8.2
Option for power from roadway lighting removed
MRWA mounting information drawing information added
Lighting column mounting option deleted
Pillar Mounting option deleted
Electrical Asset co-ordinator contact details updated
Roadway lighting drawing option deleted
  3B Appendix A Drawing 200731-0022 amended. 05-Mar-2014

Table of Content


1.1 Introduction

This guideline details the policy, design procedures and specifications used by Main Roads for the provision of Roadside Help Phone facilities on urban Freeways, Control of Access Highways, and within Tunnels.

In rural areas, it is generally difficult to justify the installation of Roadside Help Phones because traffic flow rates are very low, however, other factors such as isolation of the route from assistance or time to secure medical assistance shall be considered when planning for projects.

The aim and purpose of the provision of Roadside Help Phones is to provide a ready means of communication for road users in the event of a break down, crash, or other incident, for which assistance is required.

Roadside Help Phones provide a facility by which a call is automatically connected to Main Roads Customer Contact Centre breakdown number when the call is initiated (i.e. the button is depressed).

To hear the Roadside Help Phone recorded message accessed when the button is depressed, click here (requires Windows Media Player).


1.2 Scope

This document outlines the policy, design procedure and specifications for the Supply and Installation of Roadside Help Phones.

The technical design of the Roadside Help Phone units is undertaken by the supplier, with the current design being a pillar mounted, solar powered, digital mobile telephone. The physical layout of concrete foundation and location of the telephone pillars are described in Main Roads drawing number 9220-670. Therefore, these design guidelines only consider the placement and signing of Roadside Help Phones.


1.3 References
    • NAASRA Guide - Policy on the Use and Installation of Roadside Help Phones on Freeways and Roads of Limited Access (1980).
    • Main Roads - Specification 702 - Supply and Installation of Roadside Help Phones (Covers the Supply, Installation and commissioning requirements).
    • AS1742.8: 1990-Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices-Freeways
    • AS1743: 2001- Road Signs-Specifications
    • AS1428.2: 1992-Design for access and mobility - Enhanced and additional requirements - Buildings and facilities.
    • Australian Communications Authority Regulations and specifications as listed under Specification 702.
    • Main Roads Disability Service Plan.
    • Main Roads Design guideline for emergency Stopping Bays.
    • Guide to Road Design part 6B: Roadside environment section 4.3





Roadside Help Phones are provided to reduce the time lag between an incident occurring on relevant urban Freeways, Highways and within Tunnels and the time of receipt of assistance.
Assistance is provided to minimise the risk to the public and to
    • Alert Emergency Services in the event of, or potential for an injury or loss of life.
    • Alert Emergency Services and Towing services in the event of a break down or traffic incident, which cannot be immediately cleared or is obstructing traffic.
    • Reduce the risk of further incidents by arranging the prompt removal of any hazards.
    • Aid road users in the case of any other emergencies.
    • Discourage motorists from attempting to cross the carriageway.


2.1 Locality-Urban Roads

 Generally, Roadside Help Phones are installed on all urban freeways and controlled access highways with high traffic volumes. Other locations where a breakdown or incident may pose a significant risk of injury, loss of life or further incidents, may also warrant the installation of Roadside Help Phones.


2.2 Layout Requirements

Technical requirements relating to the design of the Roadside Help Phone is covered under Main Roads  

Requirements relating to the design of Roadside Help Phone layouts are as follows:
    • Design and installation of Roadside Help Phones shall be considered at the planning phase of a project Specification 700 Series.
    • The Roadside Help Phones shall preferably be positioned so that the user is facing the oncoming traffic.
    • The Roadside Help Phones shall be installed in a safe location.
    • When designing for Roadside Help Phones consideration shall be given to accessibility, safety of users, accessibility for people with disabilities (including special needs vehicles, refer to Main Roads Disability Service Plan), and spacing of Roadside Help Phones.
    • For divided roadways, if the carriageway is two lanes wide, then it is only required to provide Roadside Help Phones on the left hand side. If the carriageway is three lanes wide and the right hand shoulder is greater than or equal to 1.5 meter wide, then Roadside Help Phones are placed on both sides of each carriageway.
    • Roadside Help Phones shall be identifiable during both day and night. The location for Roadside Help Phone shall be lit from either existing roadway lighting or new lighting is to be installed.
    • In the presence of continuous guardrail, Roadside Help Phones shall be placed near the end of the guardrail or in a position that is accessible from the carriageway. Otherwise, the Roadside Help Phones shall be positioned in a location not vulnerable to an out of control vehicle.
    • GHD Pty Ltd shall be consulted at the time of planning to obtain pillar identification numbers.
    • Signs shall be provided in accordance with Main Roads requirements and standard to advise motorists and pedestrians of location and the distance to the nearest Roadside Help Phone.



3.1 Introduction


The location of Roadside Help Phones should not be planned by simply assuming a predetermined spacing. The locations should reflect the accessibility of the Roadside Help Phones for the motorist and should consider the safety and isolation of the stranded motorist, as well as the effect that a disabled vehicle will have on traffic flows. Therefore, the spacing of Roadside Help Phones along a particular route may vary with the factors outlined above.
Pedestrian movement across freeways and high-speed highways is strongly discouraged from a safety point of view. Therefore, Roadside Help Phones shall be placed, where possible, in pairs such that there is no advantage for motorists to cross the freeway or highway. Therefore, the distances quoted for the spacing between Roadside Help Phones in this document refers to the distances along the individual carriageway, or side of the individual carriageway, as appropriate.


3.2 Design Guidelines and Procedures
3.2.1 Preliminary Location Selection

STEP 1.1 - Determine the Maximum Desirable Spacing for Roadside Help Phones on each Section of Road

To allow suitable access to Roadside Help Phone facilities, and thereby discouraging motorists from attempting to cross carriageways, the Roadside Help Phones should be placed such that they are within a reasonable walking distance from any point on the roadway.

The recommended maximum spacing in urban areas is 1000 metres, which gives a maximum walking distance of 500 metres.

In special circumstances, only where no safe access to Roadside Help Phones can be provided, spacing of up to 1200 metres between Roadside Help Phones may be used (i.e. not as a design regime).

The traffic volume will determine the demand for Roadside Help Phones. Therefore, on heavily trafficked roads with little or no shoulder the spacing between Roadside Help Phones should be reduced.

    • On roads with little or no shoulder the desirable spacing between Roadside Help Phones should be reduced to 400 metres to minimise the time which motorists are exposed to the potential hazard of high-speed traffic. The width of shoulder shall allow for safe use of the phone. Otherwise, a localised widening is required to allow the safe use of the Roadside Help Phone. 
    • On particular road sections that are critical to the road network, and which are particularly vulnerable to congestion, the desirable spacing between Roadside Help Phones should be reduced to 400 metres.
    • Within tunnels, the maximum spacing between Roadside Help Phones shall be reduced to 200 metres. However, due to specialised nature of tunnels the spacing between Roadside Help Phones should be designed to meet the requirements of the Tunnel.
    • It is desirable to locate Roadside Help Phones near interchanges for ready access by motorists using either ramps or the main carriageway.
    • In Rural areas the roadside help to be provided based on the traffic volume and in accordance with Guide to road design part 6B section 4.3 as provided below. 
Road Type Traffic Volume Spacing Comments
​Rural freeway/motorway ​ ​General (< 10,000 vpd) ​​5000 Lower probability of incidents.
​Higher volume (> 10,000 vpd)  ​2000 Depends also on site circumstances.

Table 1: Roadside Help phones for Rural Freeway and Highway

STEP 1.2 - Identify Major Road Features at which the Location of Roadside Help Phones is Critical

For the purpose of this guideline, a major road feature is defined as any road feature that significantly affects the traffic flows, or traffic movements, on the particular roadway in question. These include a major interchange on a freeway or major intersection on a highway.

Roadside Help Phones should be situated at or near each major road feature.  A pair of Roadside Help Phones shall be situated diagonally opposite each other on the departure side of their respective carriageways at a junction. 

The placement of Roadside Help Phones is particularly important at grade-separated interchanges as it allows access to the Roadside Help Phones by motorists on both the on/off ramps and the main carriageways. This is illustrated under Figures 1 and 2.




Figure 1- Typical Roadside Help Phone locations on Freeways










Figure 2- Typical Roadside Help Phone layout and signing on Highways  


STEP 1.3 - Establish the Number of Roadside Help Phones required between Major Road Features

With the location of Roadside Help Phones at major road features fixed, the road section between these Roadside Help Phones shall be divided into sections, with no section exceeding the determined desirable maximum spacing for that section of road. This will, determine the total number of Roadside Help Phone locations required, and give approximate locations for the Roadside Help Phones.

It is important to remember that at major road features such as intersections and grade separated interchanges, Roadside Help Phones will be placed on the departure side of the feature, and the distance to the next Roadside Help Phone may not be the same for both carriageways. The desirable maximum spacing shall not be exceeded for either carriageway


3.2.2 Final Location Selection

The final location for Roadside Help Phones should be determined by considering the factors outlined below. The phone location may vary by up to +5% of the maximum spacing determined in STEP 1.1 (i.e. for a maximum spacing of 1000 meters, phones locations may vary by +50 metres). 

    • Location of street lighting so that adequate illumination of the Roadside Help Phone is provided. If lighting is inadequate for identification and/or operation, some special lighting provisions may be needed to enable operating instructions to be read. (Refer to clause 4)
    • Location of lighting structures, signs, and other roadside objects that may conflict with the placement of Roadside Help Phone.
    • The signal strength and network access should be such that the Roadside Help Phone is available all the time and access is not excluded due to signal variations or network congestion.
    • The Sight Distance (SD) to the Roadside Help Phone should be adequate for the speed of travel.
    • Roadside Help Phones should be located so that they are not obscured by existing or planned verge vegetation.
    • It is especially important to ensure motorists on foot and pedestrians near heavily trafficked freeway on/off ramps are not required to cross ramps in order to reach a Roadside Help Phone, except at signalised intersections.
    • The shoulder width or breakdown lane width is adequate for the safe use of an Roadside Help Phone by a pedestrian.
    • The effects of ambient noise levels, including the noise levels due to reflection from nearby structures are considered.
    • Ground topography, as clearly locations on steep batters, are unsuitable for the installation of Roadside Help Phones.
    • The availability of any other alternative means of communication, such as public telephone or control centre is assessed.
    • Where guardrails are present, the Roadside Help Phones shall be placed near the end of the guardrail or in such a position behind the guardrail that it can easily be reached from the carriageway.  In the absence of the guardrail, the Roadside Help Phones shall be placed just outside the shoulder.
    • Consideration shall be given to the needs of disabled persons in determining the position and mounting height of the Roadside Help Phone particularly where continuous guardrail or bridge railing exists.



Placement of the telephones, choice of the telephone provider and communications technology used, design of the mounting arrangement and the base arrangement are design choices. The telephones may use preferably GSM or fixed-wire public switched telephone network (PSTN) service. 

The source of power for the telephone units shall be solar.

The telephones must be PABX compatible and have diagnostic features which enable it to be monitored by an existing remote computer-based Wayphone ManagerTM. Wayphone Manager is a registered trademark of Telstra Corporation Limited.



Selection of a provider for telecommunications services is governed by "whole of government" Common Use Agreements (CUAs).


At the time of initial publishing of this guideline, these CUAs are known as
    • Basic Telecommunications Carriage Services (Contract 10004) for Voice and Data.
    • Mobile Telecommunications Services and Equipment (Contract 15103) for mobile services.
Under these CUA arrangements
    • GSM (Optus)
    • PSTN services are provided by Telstra
It is mandatory that these providers be used for the services.
The Designer is required to check and confirm the current telecommunication provider contract requirements at the time of design.


4.2 Selection of Telecommunications Technology

The order of preference for MRWA Roadside Help Phones solutions is:

    • GSM (Optus)
    • GSM (Vodafone - only if reliable OPTUS coverage is not available)
    • PSTN (Telstra - only if GSM is not available)

Where the signal strength is low the location and gain of the antenna used should be reviewed before rejecting the use of GSM Optus. A higher gain antenna may be used with the recognition that its fixing arrangement may need adjusting since it will be more directional. The higher the gain of the antenna, the more directional its response will be.

The minimum signal strength that enables the current Clearsonics GSM Roadside Help Phone with a 3dB antenna to reliably operate is - 76dBm.
GSM Telstra may be used with the permission of Main Roads WA only where GSM Optus is definitely not available. Similar antenna arrangements may be necessary to ensure adequate Telstra signal strength.


Only where neither GSM Optus nor GSM Vodafone coverage is available, PSTN technology is to be offered for a communications technology solution due to excessive telephone service charges.
4.3 Selection of Telephone Power Supply Arrangements 

Each GSM mobile telephone is to be powered from a fitted solar panel and battery combination. The Solar panel is selected such that the power generated by the solar panel is of sufficient size and wattage to ensure the battery receives sufficient charge under all weather conditions.

Fixed-line telephones are to utilise the carrier's line power to power the unit but ancillary fault diagnostic or other accessories are to be powered from the mains supply or solar panel.

The designer is to consider the availability of adequate sun light if the solar panel is mounted near a bridge abutment, building, large trees or other potential sources of constant or intermittent shade.

4.4 Selection of the Mounting Arrangements

The Roadside Help Phones will be mounted on a purpose-designed pillar in accordance with MRWA mounting arrangements as shown in the drawing 9220-670.

The desired location of the telephone is determined by the need to place the telephone in a safe, accessible and convenient location at appropriate intervals along the roadway, the GSM service coverage if appropriate.


4.4.1 Emergency Stopping Bays

For specific concrete pad and installation of Roadside Help Phones along Emergency Stopping Bays please refer to Part C: Technical Guidelines - Emergency Stopping Bays.


Main Roads allocates numbers to the Roadside Help Phones sequentially along the roadway in question, with all odd numbers and all even numbers on the same side of the Freeway or Highway. Roadside Help Phones are numbered in series in the following manner:


Mitchell Freeway 100 series for kerbside locations
200 series for corresponding median locations
Kwinana Freeway 300 series
Roe/Reid Highway 400 series
GFF (Graham Farmer Freeway) 500 series
Tonkin Highway 600 series
Leach Highway 700 series
Great Eastern Highway Bypass and miscellaneous 
(i.e. Greenmount Arrester bed)
800 series

                                                             Table 1: Roadside Help Phone Identification Numbers


The designer shall contact ISA Electrical Asset co-ordinator for the next available asset number.
The contact details are:

          Tel: (08) 9265 5232                                                                                                  

          Mobile: 0402 135259



6. Signing

Signs should be placed at intervals of 200 metres along the carriageway, on the same side as the Roadside Help Phones to indicate to motorists on foot the direction of, and distance to, the closest Roadside Help Phone Refer to figure 2 in this guideline. Signs shall comply with the requirements of Standard Drawing 9220-0160. Signs may be positioned either on light poles or as standalone signs on separate posts.

A GE-7-6A sign shall be located beside or above the Roadside Help Phone, mounted to face oncoming traffic.


For signing of Roadside Help Phones located in Emergency Stopping Bays refer to the Emergency Stopping Bay Guideline.
6.1 Concrete Foundation Pad

For all Roadside Help Phone facilities, a concrete hardstand, complete with a foundation and anchor bolt assembly, shall be installed as detailed in Main Roads Drawing No. 9220-670. The full concrete foundation pad is the preferred option.


For construction of concrete pads for Roadside Help Phones located in Emergency Stopping Bays refer to the Emergency Stopping Bay guideline.
Where new Roadside Help Phones are required, footings shall be installed in accordance with Main Roads standard drawings and Specification 702 for Supply and Installation of Roadside Help Phone.



 Where Roadway Lighting is provided, Roadside Help Phone shall be illuminated by placing them within 10 metres on the approach side of a Roadway Lighting pole such that the lighting allows easy recognition of the Roadside Help Phone location and provides sufficient lighting to allow the user to operate the Roadside Help Phone. The minimum lighting level in the immediate vicinity of the Roadside Help Phone should not be less than 100 Lux (Refer to AS1428.2 in relation to the lighting requirements for Roadside Help Phones and ramps).

7.1 Replacing or Moving Roadside Help Phones
Currently, Main Roads practice is that all new Roadside Help Phones installations are pillar mounted, usually solar powered, and operate on the Optus GSM digital cellular mobile phone system. Some of the Roadside Help Phone installations on the Kwinana Freeway and Mitchell Freeway are hardwired (i.e. fitted with a physical telephone landline connected into the Public Switched Telephone Network). The decision as to whether to relocate or replace existing Roadside Help Phone facilities should be undertaken on a case-by-case basis. Factors to be considered are:
    • Connection costs to the telephone network.
    • Call charges.
    • Annual rentals of equipment.
    • Reliability.
    • Changing telecommunications technology.


7.2 Direction of Placement

The Roadside Help Phone pillar shall be installed so that the user is directly facing the carriageway when operating the telephone. This allows maximum room for wheelchairs to manoeuvre on the pad.



8.1 Design Drawing

Design drawings shall be prepared in accordance with Main Roads Design drawing presentation guidelines.

8.2 Information to be Included

The design drawings shall include;

    • Under road conduits (where applicable)
    • Cable Pits
    • Location of Roadside Help Phone
    • Type of footing (including use of existing footing)
    • Roadside Help Phone ID Number
    • Coordinates
    • Associated Road Signs
    • Sufficient notes on the design drawing to require the correct orientation of the Roadside Help Phone to be followed.
    • Tie in details to kerbing (if applicable) or road pavement.
    • Lighting assessment including lighting level at proposed locations for all Roadside Help Phones
    • Power connection details,
    • Telephone Network Selected details.






Drawings included with these technical standards for reference purposes are:


Drawing Number


Roadside Help Phone concrete pad 


Roadside Help Phone signs


Roadside Help Phone Identification Label


Roadside Help Phones at Emergency Stopping bays - General Arrangement, Foundation and Base Details

                                                                                   Table 3: Standard Drawings