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Road sign overload

RAC warns of too many road signs

Drivers are in danger of crashing because they’re overwhelmed by the increasing number of confusing road signs, according to the RAC Foundation.

The RAC’s campaigns arm says that signs which are clear, concise, relevant, reliable and timely can improve safety and reduce the number of drivers who get lost each day. But it warns that groups of contradictory signs lead to ‘information overload’ and confusion, which can cause an accident.

The foundation says that if motorists are focusing on too many messages – such as traffic news on the radio, satellite navigation instructions and over-complex road signs – they can end up missing crucial information.

In an investigation into parking issues last November (see below), Which? found that one of the main reasons for people receiving parking fines was confusion. Researcher Pete Tynan said: ‘There is an ever increasing number of signs, such as those showing parking restrictions. These can be quite detailed, and hidden among a cluster of other road signs.

‘The consequence of missing one of these parking restrictions can be a hefty fine, so motorists have to sift for detail among the forest of signs – and try to keep an eye on the road.’

Drivers lost

The RAC Foundation says that thousands of road signs across the UK which give route directions, street names, limits or hazards are confusing or have disappeared, been knocked down, obscured with grime or foliage or have been damaged.


Surveys by the foundation have also found that more than half of UK motorists admit to not understanding even basic signs in the Highway Code, while in urban areas at any particular time up to 15 per cent of drivers are estimated to be lost.

The RAC Foundation’s Executive Director, Edmund King, will tell a transport conference in London today that road authorities should review signing. He believess they should particularly look at signs in locations with a history of collisions to ensure that they’re legible and simple to follow.

Mr King will also say that all road signs should be regularly maintained, cleaned, kept free of foliage – and be accurate.

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