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a sign of the times

4 January 2013

Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin has called for some of England’s estimated 9000 unnecessary road signs to be removed, writing to local authorities to announce new ‘Reducing Sign Clutter’ guidance.

The new Traffic Signs Advisory document provides advice for improving the streetscape and environment and recommends traffic authorities create inventories of their signs and conduct regular sign audits to see which signs are no longer required. McLoughlin suggests that decluttering will pay for itself through reduced maintenance and energy costs. 

The Secretary of State promises revised ‘Traffic Signs Regulations’ in 2014 which will provide council’s with more discretion over where and when to place signs. Whilst Government issued guidance on the number of road signs sounds like something out of ‘Yes Minister’, sign overcrowding, as well as being ugly, can also be confusing for road users. There is in fact no duty to sign, but, once in place, traffic authorities would be well advised to assess carefully the risk before a wholesale removal of warning signs.

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