The number of distractions on the UK’s roads is set to be reduced in the near future, as road signs deemed unnecessary are to be eradicated by new Government proposals. A new consultation has been established with the aim of rapidly reduce the amount of ‘street clutter’ currently around.
The Department for Transport (DfT) recently launched a consultation on guidance for local councils regarding how to eradicate street clutter and get rid of unnecessary road signs. This has occurred following the DfT’s announcement that the number of road signs on Britain roads have more than doubled in just the last 20 years.
Over 4.5 million road signs in Britain
There are reported to be over 4.5 million road signs in Britain since last year. Among them, the number of speed limit signs has increased from 224,885 in 1993 to 441,400 in 2013. Furthermore the DfT revealed that between 1993 and 2013 the number of speed bump signs has increased from 4,675 to 98,351.
Noticeably as well the number of clearway or no stopping signs has increased from 3,444 to 113,530. The number of ‘Give Way’ signs over the past twenty years has gone up from 1,572 to 23,135.
Roads Minister says increase in road signs cannot continue
In reaction to the statistics the Roads Minister, Robert Goodwill, has said that this rapid increase is a trend which “cannot, and must not, continue”. Goodwill also commented: “This is causing unnecessary clutter in our towns and cities,
“The proposed changes will mean greater flexibility for councils to cut the number of signs, whilst ensuring consistency and making sure our roads are even safer.”
The rapid increase in road signs has created fears that some of the less essential additions are distracting drivers to the point where an accident can, and has occasionally, occurred.
A recent consultation document states that “over-provision of signs can have a detrimental impact on the environment and can dilute important messages”, and “contribute to driver distraction”.
New proposed changes from the Department of Transport include giving councils clearance to remove some unnecessary road signs while replacing others. For example, signs used for marking parking bays can instead be replaced with road markings.
Proposals also include plans to reduce the need for sign lighting and making a range of road markings and upright signs clearer.
During January 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, called on local councils to remove 9,000 unnecessary road signs which were ‘spoiling’ the British countryside.
Also, back in September last year, the DfT issued guidance on how to remove old and confusing road signs as cost-effectively as possible.