Call for action on UK's epidemic of road signs

5 May, 2014 7:00am Chris Ebbs

The number of road signs on UK roads has more than doubled in just 20 years

Britain's streets are currently littered with 4.5 million road signs – a figure that has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

The number of speed limit signs, for example, has risen from 224,885 in 1993 to 441,400 last year. Speed bump signs went up from 4,675 to a whopping 98,351. Other notable figures included clearway, or no stopping, signs, rising from 3,444 to 113,530, and priority restrictions, which include Give Way signs, going up from 1,572 to 23,135.

The figures were revealed by the Department for Transport (DfT) after it launched a consultation on guidance for local councils on how to eradicate street clutter and get rid of unnecessary road signs.

Councils were told to axe 9,000 unnecessary signs

In January 2013, Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, called on local councils to do away with around 9,000 unnecessary road signs that were spoiling the British countryside.

And last September, then roads minister Norman Baker announced that other than speed limit signs, only one sign should be placed at the start of a restriction.

The DfT also issued guidance on how to remove old, confusing and ugly signs as cost-effectively as possible. However, the AA warned that decluttering Britain’s streets isn’t a straightforward job, and that simply removing signs isn’t the answer.

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A spokesman told us: “The flipside is that some drivers would say there weren’t enough signs in areas where councils are raking in fines. There aren’t enough signs to warn people about things like box junctions.

“We have to be very careful, as you could make it harder for drivers to know they could 
be hit with a fine or a charge.”

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