Impoving Road Side Signage

Mar 14, 2005
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There have been several threads on this forum relating to speed limits, and the current trend for reducing them. Coupled to this there is the proliferation of new road side signs which seem to spring up daily. Take a look at a local street, and check the number of signs, Compared to what it used to be like even just 20 years ago I would not be surprised if the number has doubled.

Traditionally, if you were unsure about the prevailing speed limit, you could look at the frequency and disposition of lamp posts and the pattern would quite reliably indicate the relevant speed limit, But this important aide memoir is now increasingly unreliable, because many speed limits have been reduced, but the lamp posts have not been repositioned to reflect the change.

It is my opinion that the driver is now bombarded with so many new signs it is easy to miss an important one such as a lowered speed limit. This can be of considerable importance especially when a Gatso has been installed.

I suggest that one way of simply improving speed signage would be to have the prevailing speed limit displayed on every lamppost, either as a numeric figure or as reflective bands or patterns that relate to a particular speed. (1 band per 10 Mph).

What suggestions do you have for improving/simplifying the display of information on our road sides?
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Lamp-posts have never needed re-positioning because of changes in speed limit. What a ridiculous waste of public money!

A built-up area, with it's automatic 30 limit, is defined by the presence of street lighting, not the distance between lights although there is no doubt some maximum interval. The only obligatory 30 sign is at the beginning of such an area.

A (lit) built-up area with any different speed limit must have the limit signed at the beginning and at (unspecified) intervals.

In the US the speed limit is varied much more readily in towns to relect the nature of hazards. For instance, the town centre limit may be 35 but may also drop down to 25 for each junction even for traffic with precedence.

Road safety authorities do acknowledge the danger of so much signage, which is difficult for road users to prioritise.

In a democracy, where elected representatives debate and vote on the wording of most traffic regulation orders, any change towards professional executive regulation would be seen as un-democratic.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Lamp-posts have never needed re-positioning because of changes in speed limit. What a ridiculous waste of public money!

A built-up area, with it's automatic 30 limit, is defined by the presence of street lighting, not the distance between lights although there is no doubt some maximum interval. The only obligatory 30 sign is at the beginning of such an area.

A (lit) built-up area with any different speed limit must have the limit signed at the beginning and at (unspecified) intervals.

In the US the speed limit is varied much more readily in towns to relect the nature of hazards. For instance, the town centre limit may be 35 but may also drop down to 25 for each junction even for traffic with precedence.

Road safety authorities do acknowledge the danger of so much signage, which is difficult for road users to prioritise.

In a democracy, where elected representatives debate and vote on the wording of most traffic regulation orders, any change towards professional executive regulation would be seen as un-democratic.
Good morning Roger,

I quite agree that repositioning lamp post would be a waste of funds, however your second paragraph actualy demonstrates my point, You can no longer assume that the speed limit in a built up area is 30mph. In our area we have had a plethora of 20mph zones created.

There are also several areas that could be classed as built up, with street lighting that was 50mph but has been reduced to 40 or even right down to 30, so the traditional additional clues no longer work.

Your third para. seems to state the regulation, but the frequency of reminders being unspecified can leave the driver without sufficient access to important information.

Of course drivers should be fully vigilant and aware of a changed limits from the road signs, but with so much new signage, espescially on the exits to islands, the change of speed limit can easily be missed, especially when negotiating busy unfamiliar city roads.

I am not familiar with the USA systems and cannot make informed comment. I have driven in parts of Canada, and it sounds as though similar processes are applied, and it does work, because there is greater consitency of application, where as in the UK there are so many variations on a theme.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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By displaying the speed limit on every lamppost the jungle of roadsigns would be even denser than before not to mention the added cost of attaching such signs.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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By displaying the speed limit on every lamppost the jungle of roadsigns would be even denser than before not to mention the added cost of attaching such signs.
Good morning Lutz,

I concede that adding speed limit indicators to lampposts would increase the number of signs, but my thought (which was probably not described enough) was not use the traditional size but go for a considerably smaller self adhesive reflective vinyl type which could be added quickly and cheaply to the trunk of the lamppost, (many councils add litter & dog fouling notices to lamp posts) these reminders would not add to the visual profile of the lamp post.
 
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Every lamp post might be overkill but every speed camera sign should have a speed limit sticker to enable observance of the recommended speed .

I recently had to brake sharply as the van in front slowed dramatically from 60 to 30 when passing a speed camera in a 60 zone.

A sticker on the warning sign would remove such confusion
 
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That reminds me of some hairy incidents here in Germany some while back just before motorway tolls were introduced for trucks. In order to catch potential toll dodgers (the tolls are collected through on-board units monitored via satellite) the powers that be put up camera gantrys at a number of places along the motorway. As there was no speed limit posted, motorists, mistaking them as speed traps and thinking they had missed a speed sign, slammed on their anchors as soon as they saw the cameras and there were a number of near accidents until traffic got used to their presence. Now all speed cameras on motorways also have the limits posted right next to them. (This doesn't apply in built-up areas, though).
 
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It might help if existing roadside signs were kept cleared of growing trees, plants, bushes etc. How many times have you only been able to see half a sign due to overgrowth which has not been kept trimmed back ? On the other hand I have seen motorway signs where the grass has been trimmed away from around the supports - grass which would hardly be able to obscure the sign itself due to the supports being at least twenty feet tall ! Maybe this overgrowth is due to global warming. I know this is getting away from speed limit signs on lamp posts - just thought I would have a post Christmas rant.

Mike E
 
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In our area last year an EEC loan was used to replace all street/road name signs.

It appears that nobody in the local council responsible has been equipped with a bucket and cleaning cloth.

No doubt another grant will be needed to replace the signs when they become too dirty to read at all!!

Thanks Mike for giving me the opportunity to rant also

I feel better for that !!!
 
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John G,

Rather like householders being discouraged from clearing up snow from outside their houses in case anyone slipped on any residue I have heard tell of a gardening householder being ticked off for trimming foiliage away from a road sign placed next to their hedge - it was seen as taking work away from whoever was meant to do it.

So whatever you do, do not attempt to clean the signs yourself.

Mike E
 
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John G,

Rather like householders being discouraged from clearing up snow from outside their houses in case anyone slipped on any residue I have heard tell of a gardening householder being ticked off for trimming foiliage away from a road sign placed next to their hedge - it was seen as taking work away from whoever was meant to do it.

So whatever you do, do not attempt to clean the signs yourself.

Mike E
Last time I did that the thinners I was using to remove graffiti brought some of the paint off the sign as well.

Perhaps that was the cause of the EEC grant being needed in the first place .

SHHHHHHH
 
Dec 16, 2003
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John G,

Rather like householders being discouraged from clearing up snow from outside their houses in case anyone slipped on any residue I have heard tell of a gardening householder being ticked off for trimming foiliage away from a road sign placed next to their hedge - it was seen as taking work away from whoever was meant to do it.

So whatever you do, do not attempt to clean the signs yourself.

Mike E
With large numbers of lorries on the road, why do we not have signs in the middle of M'ways like the continentals. I would save people missing junctions when their view of the inside signs are blocked and and there are no expensive overhead supports to hang them on.

On main A roads, chevron signs that light up and flash at dangerous bends as they use in France instead of needless 50mph limits.

And again like the French,high above the road bright flashing lights that can be seem a mile or three before a village warning of lower speeds and pedestrian crossing or level crossings for trains.
 
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With large numbers of lorries on the road, why do we not have signs in the middle of M'ways like the continentals. I would save people missing junctions when their view of the inside signs are blocked and and there are no expensive overhead supports to hang them on.

On main A roads, chevron signs that light up and flash at dangerous bends as they use in France instead of needless 50mph limits.

And again like the French,high above the road bright flashing lights that can be seem a mile or three before a village warning of lower speeds and pedestrian crossing or level crossings for trains.
Thanks Cris for your input, I have not driven on the continent, so I am not familiar with implementation of the items you describe.

In particular the illuminated chevrons, do you know how they work?, do they flash all the time or only when a vehicle approaches. Are they triggered by the speed of the vehicle?

I have driven in Canada, and I was impressed by the warning signs used before townships giving drivers time to slow to the lower limit. I have to say that in some places in the UK a similar systems has been implemented and it is good because it gives early warning of a change, and the information is repeated so it is more likely to be assimilated by the driver. It also means that drivers are more likely to have regulated their speed when they actually enter the new zone, or to put another way they have no excuse to be speeding in restricted zones.
 
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Why can't the speed limit be displayed within the white lines, ie, a 60 painted within the exisiting white line, or a 40, or a 30, or whatever the particular limit was - easy to see, no additional road-side pollution, and easily revised up or down. At one time in France speed limits within villages were indicated by a green, red, or yellow band. I ALWAYS find it difficult to decide what the existing limit is - because usually you are concentrating on something other than reading a roadside sign.
 
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Last time I did that the thinners I was using to remove graffiti brought some of the paint off the sign as well.

Perhaps that was the cause of the EEC grant being needed in the first place .

SHHHHHHH
John G,

Still laughing at the thought of you scrubbing away and seeing the sign vanishing. There must be an aroma of thinners chez vous. So if you see anyone, 'van in tow, sniffing invisible signs IT'S ME ! !

Mike E
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Val,

Thanks for your input.

There is a problem with signage painted on the roads, at night and in the wet or in the snow it can become all but invisible. Some painted road signs in our area are also wearing out, I have also noticed that where contractors have to dig up the road, many do not bother to replace the painted lines etc afterwards.

That is why I suggested lamp posts.
 
Nov 1, 2005
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Hi John. I wonder whether a speed limit painted on the road would be legally enforcable, since the law states that speed signs should be circular, of a set size(which I can't recall), reflective white with a red border, and numerals of a set size(which again I can't recall). I'm aware that some places display rectangular signs, but these are only advisory. On your point about lamp posts, there is a law which states any area street lit on both sides at intervals of less than 220yds can be declared a 30mph limit, and lit on one side a 40mph limit.I'm not sure whether this is still in use.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi John. I wonder whether a speed limit painted on the road would be legally enforcable, since the law states that speed signs should be circular, of a set size(which I can't recall), reflective white with a red border, and numerals of a set size(which again I can't recall). I'm aware that some places display rectangular signs, but these are only advisory. On your point about lamp posts, there is a law which states any area street lit on both sides at intervals of less than 220yds can be declared a 30mph limit, and lit on one side a 40mph limit.I'm not sure whether this is still in use.
Craig,

Thanks for your input. Taking your points in reverse order, I also seem to recall something similar that used the positioning frequency of lamp post that used to define a speed limit. The problem is now that in my area (Walsall)and I am sure in others as well, is that many sections of roads have had their speed limits cut, so a street that was 40 and had appropriate street lighting, is now 30, and that means that the old street light pattern now tells a lie. Similarly many streets have been dropped from 30 to 20mph, so yet again the lighting pattern does not give a correct cue to the driver.

I do not know the legality of road painted signage, but as in my reply to Val, I see practical problems with the visibility of such signs. I am sure that if necessary the legislation could be changed to allow different types of speed limit indications, or perhaps simply use them as reminders of the enforceable limit.

I used the Speed limit signs as an example of how the current roll out of road signage in general is poorly coordinated, and not always effective at getting the required message across to the driver.

I was hoping for a wider debate which might have produces some ideas to simplify some of the forest of signs that confront driver's to-day. - Are all the signs really necessary, do we need to know that we are approaching a school crossing where a traffic light controlled crossing is used? Do we need to know that sharp bends are ahead, when the bends are also marked with chevron boards?

How about at a road island - three of four roads approach the island and are restricted to 40mph the fourth is 20mph. A few metres before the island the speed is derestricted! then on exiting the island your are restricted to 40/20 again! How daft, and when each of these signs costs around 300 to
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Craig,

Thanks for your input. Taking your points in reverse order, I also seem to recall something similar that used the positioning frequency of lamp post that used to define a speed limit. The problem is now that in my area (Walsall)and I am sure in others as well, is that many sections of roads have had their speed limits cut, so a street that was 40 and had appropriate street lighting, is now 30, and that means that the old street light pattern now tells a lie. Similarly many streets have been dropped from 30 to 20mph, so yet again the lighting pattern does not give a correct cue to the driver.

I do not know the legality of road painted signage, but as in my reply to Val, I see practical problems with the visibility of such signs. I am sure that if necessary the legislation could be changed to allow different types of speed limit indications, or perhaps simply use them as reminders of the enforceable limit.

I used the Speed limit signs as an example of how the current roll out of road signage in general is poorly coordinated, and not always effective at getting the required message across to the driver.

I was hoping for a wider debate which might have produces some ideas to simplify some of the forest of signs that confront driver's to-day. - Are all the signs really necessary, do we need to know that we are approaching a school crossing where a traffic light controlled crossing is used? Do we need to know that sharp bends are ahead, when the bends are also marked with chevron boards?

How about at a road island - three of four roads approach the island and are restricted to 40mph the fourth is 20mph. A few metres before the island the speed is derestricted! then on exiting the island your are restricted to 40/20 again! How daft, and when each of these signs costs around 300 to
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Thanks Cris for your input, I have not driven on the continent, so I am not familiar with implementation of the items you describe.

In particular the illuminated chevrons, do you know how they work?, do they flash all the time or only when a vehicle approaches. Are they triggered by the speed of the vehicle?

I have driven in Canada, and I was impressed by the warning signs used before townships giving drivers time to slow to the lower limit. I have to say that in some places in the UK a similar systems has been implemented and it is good because it gives early warning of a change, and the information is repeated so it is more likely to be assimilated by the driver. It also means that drivers are more likely to have regulated their speed when they actually enter the new zone, or to put another way they have no excuse to be speeding in restricted zones.
sorry I missed this, they have detector in the van like the signs they are using here that flash your speed if you go to fast.

If you approach a tight bend to fast the whole thing lights up like it's Christmas. Far better than your speed flashing in font of you! I have seen some where the flashing Chevrons go on and on around twisty bends. Friends who live in France were told a bend near their village had night time accidents nearly every week for years but they have never had an accident since the flashing chevron device arrived.
 

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