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Graham Hurdle's blog: 23 May 2014 - Do road signs make roads safer or are they just pointless?

Date: 23 May 2014

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

I've been reading reports that Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has called for an end to 'pointless' signs - saying they confuse drivers and make the roads more dangerous.

Regulations are set to be tightened up, as it is revealed the number of signs cluttering Britain's roads has more than doubled in 20 years to 4.5million.

This is around one sign for every seven cars on the roads.

Patrick McLoughlin said councils could clamp down on the constant alerts to motorists about loading restrictions, clearways, humps and speed limits, which are distracting and state the obvious.

The report goes on to say that many of the signs that go up are simply not needed and it has got to stop.

As well as spoiling otherwise beautiful areas of the country, pointless signs just confuse drivers and make the roads less safe.

I find these comments extremely disappointing, especially coming from the Transport Secretary. I accept there may be a small percentage of out-of-date signs, such as a slippery road surface sign remaining long after the road surface has been re-tarmacked, however councils have a duty of care and that includes reducing the risk of crashes.

Ask any driver trainer and they will tell you that, "the more signs and paint used at a location, the more the danger."

The Transport Secretary is quoted as saying. "As well as spoiling otherwise beautiful areas of the country, pointless signs just confuse drivers and make the roads less safe."

I'd like to see the research he's basing his decisions on, because what evidence does he have that road signs make the roads less safe? I am all for preserving the countryside but not at the expense of lives on the road.

I would also much prefer to be warned about a potential hazard well in advance, and the saying ' forewarned is forearmed' is particularly apt when discussing the relevance of road signs. After all, advance warning certainly provides an advantage to a motorist.

My advice to the Transport Secretary is that before making statements regarding road safety he should consider consulting with qualified driver trainers and not rely on the opinions of road safety experts.

This sounds to me very much like a cost cutting initiative that's being dressed up as a road safety campaign and I wonder who he's trying to kid.

As for road signs spoiling beautiful areas of the countryside, many people have protested about the environmental impact of the proposed HS2 railway, but this government is still backing the project despite its proposed path through swathes of wonderful countryside.