If you’ve seen a pointless road sign near you, its days could be numbered. The government wants to get to grips with the increasingly confusing number of signs that are sprouting at the side of our roads. It is planning new-look signs and wants to give councils the power to cull confusing and pointless road signs.
A road sign review was ordered after it emerged that the number of road signs has doubled over the last 20 years. It wants to help drivers focus on what’s important by removing any pointless road signs – what road safety experts call ‘visual noise’ – from the road side. The fear is that the growing number of pointless road signs is contributing to an increasing number of road deaths. Department for Transport (DfT) figures for 2014 show that the number of road fatalities increased by four per cent compared to the year before.
The DfT has called for a new, clearer traffic sign system to help convey the most important information to all road users. This came after research showed that many signs were meaningless to the modern motorist. The review could also lead to bus lane and parking signs with multiple lines of complicated small print outlining different enforcement hours becoming a thing of the past.
What does this sign mean?
Transport minister Norman Baker said: “We are cutting pointless bureaucracy, giving councils more freedoms and updating our signs for the modern era. The jungles of signs and tangles of white, red and yellow lines can leave people more confused than informed. This expensive clutter can also leave our roadsides looking unsightly and unwelcoming.”
The DfT hopes that by encouraging councils to hold a regular road sign audit, temporary or pointless road signs can be removed. Those warning of new road layouts will be taken down within three months of the project’s completion.
Pointless road signs? What does this one mean?
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “Ugly and unnecessary signs clutter up the network. New signs seem to sprout like weeds, without any apparent consideration of what’s already there. Often what we’re left with is not just a blot on the landscape. It’s confusing and potentially dangerous too. Near me in Derbyshire there’s an ugly big sign by a beautiful medieval church that just says: No Footpath. It’s on a small country lane. Of course there isn’t a path. We don’t need a huge sign to tell us that.”
The campaign to cull pointless road signs was led by the Council for the Protection of Rural England. A spokesperson said: “To campaign against clutter is not to campaign against road safety but to argue for more sensitive measures and better design. Clutter audits show that many signs are unnecessary and by removing them, road users are more likely to notice the important signs that remain. The latest research on psychological traffic calming shows that creating attractive streetscapes and ‘lanescapes’ can be more effective in changing driver behaviour than further clutter.”
More answers in the Highway Code