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Thousands of “unnecessary” road signs set to be removed

Thousands of pointless road signs could be removed from across the country, after a Department for Transport (DfT) report found the vast majority of warning signs were “entirely superfluous”. The report comes from a DfT Road Signs Task Force, which was set up in 2015 to investigate the proliferation of road signs. Its authors said the UK currently has around 4.3 million road signs, many of which had been installed in the “totally fallacious” belief that a greater number of signs reduce accidents, or prevent legal action being taken against local authorities.

o How well do you know your road signs?[1] The report, completed in March 2017 and obtained by The Times via a Freedom of Information request, recommends that entire categories of sign be scrapped altogether, and argues many warnings presumed an “insulting degree of stupidity on the part of drivers”. Likely signs for the chop include traffic light, roundabout and junction warning signs, clearway signs and ‘end of motorway regulations’ signs. Speed camera warnings could also be taken down, with the experts behind the report recommending a national online speed camera database replace them.[2]

The number of road signs in the UK has grown from 2.16 million in 1993 to 4.57 million in 2013, an increase the Task Force called “unsustainable”. It wants new rules drawn up for councils, which would stipulate signs should be no taller than 2.1 metres in most circumstances, while those with reflective backings should not have individual spotlights. And while some signs are installed in the name of safety, the report found having too many risks inflicting “information overload” on drivers, having a “detrimental impact on road safety.”

The Department for Transport told The Times it was working on a new rulebook for road signs, and this would likely take some of the Task Force’s recommendations on board. A DfT spokesman said: “Nobody likes clutter, which is why we want to reduce the number of unnecessary traffic signs being used. Local councils are best placed to decide if they want to remove, replace or install new signs on their roads.

We provide guidelines to help them make sure their signs are clear for road users.” Sir Alan Duncan, who lead the task force, said when it was launched: “I have been campaigning on this issue for twenty years. 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.”

Now read about how learner drivers will be allowed on motorways[3] from 4 June 2018…


  1. ^ How well do you know your road signs? (www.autoexpress.co.uk)
  2. ^ Speed camera warnings (www.autoexpress.co.uk)
  3. ^ allowed on motorways (www.autoexpress.co.uk)

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