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The end of pointless road signs

A new taskforce has been created to rid the UK of the abundance of pointless road signs filling our road transport networks. On August 28th, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that MP Sir Alan Duncan will lead a group which will focus on streamlining road signage and help bring an end to decades of increased signage and clutter on our nation’s highways. The commission’s study will close in early October and report back to the government in December 2015.

Pointless Road signThe consultation will investigate a number of potential measures, such as placing a remove by date on signs that are no longer required, abolishing advertising and unnecessary information on temporary signs, and, in a bid to boost road safety, enhancing the visibility of signs placed on unlit roads. In the UK, the number of signs around our roads has more than doubled since the 1990s, but many are redundant or contradict other existing signs. The taskforce will look both at streamlining signage and removing redundant signs permanently, hopefully providing a boost to the general public and motor trade alike.

The taskforce has been set up as a key part of the government’s ongoing commitment to road safety, with the dual aims of making things better for motorists and also getting rid of much unnecessary bureaucracy. The excess signage in some areas means that navigation can be adversely affected, and also provides a distraction for motorists searching for the correct route or information. Whether new and used cars are fitted with the latest satellite navigation technology, contradictory road signs can still be a major problem. This can result in unnecessary accidents, with ensuing repairs, legal claims, and increased insurance policy premiums. Even those taking a new car for a short spin on trade plates can get distracted, reducing road safety levels.

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Despite Britain’s reputation for the quality of road networks and traffic information, the increased clutter and unnecessary displays mean that our roads are becoming hazardous to navigate, especially for the casual driver or those driving in unfamiliar areas for the first time. The taskforce believes that better road safety and easier navigation will be the key direct benefits of its recommendations.

In recent times, the Department for Transport has been proactive in working with local authorities to remove unnecessary signs and to provide more relaxed rules and regulations governing sign placement and requirements. For example, removing multiple instances of the same sign, or the replacement of warning signs located next to clearly visible obstacles or traffic systems, have been sanctioned. Regulations set up in 2002 to govern sign placement are now considered to be outdated, hence the DfT has started to relax its guidelines.

The Department also help to sponsor the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation Reducing Sign Clutter award; this is aimed at rewarding councils and local authorities which have begun the process of decluttering their roads. Once the taskforce delivers its findings and recommendations, our roads should once again become the envy of the world.


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