Transport secretary expected to ban “pointless road signs”

12.00 | 12 November 2012 | | 6 comments

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, is set to ban “pointless road signs which clutter the countryside and state the obvious”, according to the Telegraph.

The Government is working on new guidance for local councils and highways officials on reducing sign clutter, as well as revised traffic signs regulations.

Mr McLoughlin will announce the plans in a speech to members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England on 13 November, says the Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph, he will say: “Too many country roads carry a reminder of how insensitive planners can be to the aesthetics of transport design with the ugly and unnecessary signage that clutters up the network.

“New signs are added without any apparent consideration of existing ones or what’s needed. And then there are those ‘temporary’ yellow signs saying ‘new road layout ahead’ that are left to rot for years. Often what we’re left with is not just a blot on the landscape. It’s also something that’s confusing and dangerous.

Speaking of the proposed changes, Mr McLoughlin will add: “The combined effect of these changes will be to give authorities and designers much greater freedom to de-clutter and simplify country junctions.

“And I want to make sure that they use it. So my message today to highways engineers is: if in doubt, don’t do it. Save your money for something that matters.”

The new DfT guidance and traffic signs regulations will be issued by autumn 2013.

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    Whilst training to be a driving examiner I was told that every sign was something else for a driver to hit. I remember a survey in the mid 90s which showed rural drivers only saw 7 out of 10 signs and more worryingly only recognised 3 out of every 10 seen. If councils got rid of the signs hidden by vegetation they could use the scrap value to keep road safety officers. Then look for the redundant signs, for example when at the top of a hill does one really need a sign telling you it goes down! The idea is to declutter our roads which will give drivers less to hit and councils less to have to maintain so a win win situation maybe.

    Peter Wilson London
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    DfT have already issued guidance on this, so no idea why this story is a new story. As a profession one thing we can do is encourage the use of staff with IHIE road signing qualifications. Where I live (Liverpool) recent fiascos include an upside down warning triangle (for a roundabout) and a sign stating “duel” rather than “dual” carriageway.

    Other bug bears – over use of brown tourist signs, including some to hotels/pubs. These are acting as free adverts.

    As as for adverts I think it strange that we can accept been bombarded with them in urban areas but put a single one in a field and it becomes a “road safety hazard”. I can accept it may be a hazard, but if certain rules are followed (see TA57 for a few starters), including environmental assessment, then it may be acceptable.

    I don’t expect many LHAs to be weighing in their “scrap metal” very soon.

    pete, liverpool
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    From my experience many signs are put there because of political pressure in the first place. Many signs are not required and more engineers need to say no to politicians rather than go for a quiet life. Yellow signs are invariably put there by ‘other’ authorities, AA etc for cash. Few LAs benefit.

    Olly, Lancs
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    I don’t think that he goes far enough. All signage that is not necessary like ‘NEW HOMES FOR SALE’ etc should be banned but then it’s revenue to the LA isn’t it?

    Also all roundabouts should be cleared of all material be it trees, shrubs, flower beds and other advertisements, including chevrons at eye level, as they dangerously reduce visibility for vehicles already on such a roundabout, and for those wishing to enter.

    Clean up the roads, simplify things. That would make me very happy.

    bob craven Lancs
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    err… does someone want to point out to the Secretary of State that those “yellow” New road layout ahead signs should actually be RED!!

    It might have been nice if RSGB article had also included something about the benefit of such signing (rather than just repeating Telegraph article?).

    IMHO another non “initiative” when perhaps the department should be concentrating on bigger issues??

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I wonder whether the Transport Secretary has figured out WHY “new signs are added without consideration, etc.” Whether he has or not, let’s hope he achieves his aim in respect of traffic signs, and then turns his attention to the far worse problem of outdoor advertising.

    Andrew Fraser, STIRLING
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