The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): Great Britain has one of the safest road networks in the world and the quality and clarity of our traffic signs make a significant contribution to this. The Department for Transport has now completed the most significant review of traffic signs for over 40 years to ensure that this traffic sign system continues to meet the needs of road users now and in the future.
I am pleased to announce that the Department is today publishing the policy document, “Signing the Way”, which sets out the findings of the review. This document provides a framework for a new traffic sign system which retains national consistency, but reduces central Government involvement in local decisions, reducing costs and giving local authorities the flexibility to respond to local needs. It also sets out our proposals for streamlining the traffic regulation order process which would reduce costs and time.
The review recognises that our travel behaviour is changing and that people are being encouraged to cycle and to walk where practical. The traffic sign system needs to reflect these changes and this review will ensure that our traffic signs meet the needs of all road users.
Traffic signs also directly affect how much clutter there is on our roads. While road users require traffic signs to undertake their journeys safely and legally, too much signing creates an untidy, unattractive and confusing environment. The review sets out measures to reduce the number of signs on the road and provides advice to local authorities on removing unnecessary signing.
The review requires a major update of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions and the Department is proceeding with this work as a priority. In the interim, we will deliver changes where possible through the Secretary of State’s traffic signs authorisation process.