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Ministers plan crackdown on unnecessary road signs


Unnecessary and confusing signs make roadsides look ugly and can even increase the risk of accidents. The Department for Transport is planning a big clean-up.

Road signs

The government is promising action to deal with Britain’s rapidly growing number of unnecessary and confusing road signs.

The Department for Transport says its research shows that the number of road signs has doubled in the past 20 years.

Accident risk

But ministers are concerned that much of this growth has been made up by signs which are of little use, and which can increase the risk of accidents by unnecessarily distracting drivers.

The DfT has made a number of proposals, including imposing time limits on temporary signs so that contractors or local authorities must ensure they are removed when no longer needed.

New rules are also being considered that would ban extra adverts and logos from appearing on temporary signs.

And more consideration will be given to ensuring that important signs are visible at night on unlit roads.

Blighting the landscape

The department has also set up a taskforce which will look at how roadside clutter can be reduced while also examining whether any signs can be scrapped altogether.

Former 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 the new taskforce is an important step towards striking the right balance."

Road works and traffic signs

20-year campaign

The taskforce will be headed up by Conservative MP Sir Alan Duncan, who said: "I have been campaigning on this issue for 20 years and I am delighted to lead this initiative.

"The UK has erected thousands of road signs which are completely unnecessary, such as traffic light-warning signs when you can see the lights themselves.

"We are going to look at how we might get rid of whole categories of unnecessary signs and improve the look of our roads and streets."

The taskforce will carry out its assessment over the autumn and is due to report its findings to transport ministers before the end of the year.

Regular audits needed

The DfT said that these steps were part of an ongoing campaign to reduce clutter on Britain’s roads.

A spokesman said it had recently published guidance for local authorities concerning the placement and information content of road signs.

The department wants councils to carry out regular audits of signs to ensure they are relevant and necessary and not out of date.

For example, signs saying "new road layout ahead" should be removed within three months of the project’s completion date, while the yellow and black signs denoting new housing developments must be taken down no later than six months after building work has been finished.

The DfT also says that many local signs for the likes of schools, churches and surgeries are often unnecessary given that local residents are likely already to know where these facilities are.


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