Temporary road signs to be given ‘remove by’ date

Temporary road signs can create 'dangerous' distractions. Picture: Justin Spittle
Temporary road signs can create 'dangerous' distractions. Picture: Justin Spittle
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TEMPORARY road signs will be given “remove by” dates under government plans to remove “pointless” street clutter.

A shake-up of Britain’s half-century-old road-sign system has been ordered after their number doubled over the last 20 years.

Distracting adverts and logos on electronic variable message signs will also be restricted.

Other measures include height restriction signs including both metric and imperial measurements, in an attempt to cut the number of lorries hitting low bridges.

This is because younger drivers who learned distances in metres rather than feet at school may be unfamiliar with imperial scales.

The UK Department for Transport, which yesterday launched a consultation on the plans, which include Scotland, said signs that stayed up too long included those highlighting road layout changes.

They include slogans such as “New roundabout ahead”.

Other needless signs were warnings of traffic lights positioned where drivers could see the lights themselves.

Ministers said the “remove by” tags would enable people to remind councils to take down out-of-date signs.

UK 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.”

However, a Scottish motoring expert said road safety must not be compromised by removing too many signs.

Neil Greig, policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “There is no doubt we have far too many signs out there which can cause distraction or information overload, as well as scenic blight.

“However, many of these signs have been placed for safety reasons and they must not be removed without a proper audit of their effectiveness.

“A good driver will take their speed and positioning clues from the size and quantity of signs as they approach a hazard, and that must not be put at risk.

“Let’s start with all those signs telling people who resurfaced their road or is building the next road project before we take down anything that warns of a real problem ahead.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said: “We have long supported the reduction of sign clutter at the side of roads.

“Our guidance, Road Furniture in the Countryside, published in 2006, details how roads authorities can minimise items like traffic signs causing visual intrusion, while maintaining safety levels and giving the 
appropriate levels of information.”