Wednesday 16th September 2015
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FINALLY, good news, the government are at last doing something about pointless road signs. A new taskforce and consultation  have been announced to eliminate pointless road signs.  Some of the most 'pointless' traffic signs are ones that indicate a change in road layout ahead (new roundabout or crossing) which are usually followed by regular signs indicating the changed layout anyway.

Sir Alan Duncan MP has been appointed to oversee the taskforce.  Traffic signs are overused and poorly used.  The taskforce will examine the overuse of road signs and work towards making roads safer and easier to navigate for drivers while minimizing bureaucracy.

The consultation will propose a range of new measures which will include:

  • making sure traffic signs are visible on unlit roads
  • stopping temporary message signs from being cluttered with adverts and distracting logos
  • proposing ‘remove by’ dates on work signs

Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin said:

“Useless traffic signs blight our landscape, waste taxpayers’ cash and can be a dangerous distraction to drivers.

We are restoring common sense to Britain’s roads while ensuring drivers have the information they need to get about safely. We have already made much progress but Sir Alan Duncan’s new taskforce is an important step towards striking the right balance”.

The Department for Transport carried out research into traffic signs in 2013 and this informed the Traffic Signs Policy Review which revealed that the number of traffic signs had doubled over the last 20 years and there had been an overall increase of approximately 111.5% since 1993.  The policy revealed that there were 4.57m traffic signs in England. The top three were waiting/loading restrictions, speed limits and parking regulations.

Since 1993 the waiting/loading signs had an increase of 24.9%, speed limits had a 96.3% increase and parking regulation signs increased by 84.1%.  There were also disproportionally large increases for other signs including speed humps and priority restriction.  The government is concerned at these surges in road signs as the signs could become more of a distraction to the motorist and confuse them rather than keep them safe and informed. Only two sign groups decreased: Stop and Restrictive zones. Also, 34,406 signs could not be identified.  Legislation brought out in 2002 relating to traffic signage is now out of date, so some signs are now confusing or unnecessary.

The taskforce will be tasked with coming up with practical suggestions for decluttering signage, what can be improved and removed. Local authorities will be asked to participate so that all roads and streets will be decluttered.  DfT has already provided councils with  new robust advice and relaxed the requirements for the design and placing of some signs.

The DfT has been working on this issue for the last three years by sponsoring the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation Reducing Sign Clutter award, to highlight and reward good practice by local authorities.

The taskforce will begin their work very soon and are expected to present their recommendations to the government in December this year.  The consultation will close on 6 October and the DfT will respond after this.   Click here for more information.