Reform of rules for local road signage

Driving on England’s local roads could soon become a simpler experience following the introduction of new rules to help councils remove unnecessary and distracting signage from the network.

This weekend sees the revised Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions come into force. “Road signs should only be installed on our roads when they are essential,” said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

“Our common sense reforms will help get rid of pointless signs that are an eyesore and distract drivers.”

The number of signs on English roads has increased from 2.45M in 1993 to an estimated 4.57M three years ago. But the Department for Transport claims that too many signs are preventing motorists from seeing only essential messages.

The new rules give authorities the power to take down pointless signs and, for the first time, add ‘remove by dates’ to signs that indicate a new road layout ahead to ensure they are not needlessly left in place.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “We all know roads where signs seem to have been breeding. But are there really two million more things drivers have to be told about today compared with 20 years ago?

“Road users will be particularly pleased to see a concerted effort to remove the plethora of so called temporary signs that all too often turn into permanent fixtures.”

The new rules will also allow councils to now install new eye level cycle traffic lights, and require fewer signs to be lit than previously. The DfT claims that its measures are expected to help council’s save £30M in running costs by 2020.

♦ Traffic software firm Buchanan Computing is supporting launch of the new Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions with an updated version of its SignPlot software, which is used in the design and manufacture of UK traffic signs.

The new version 3.30 provides for the TSRGD’s introduction of around 50 new signs as well as changes to the permitted sizes and the text for many others – matters that traffic engineers need to get right for signs to be legal and enforceable, according to the firm's chairman Simon Morgan.