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Direction Signs

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the report on the review of direction signs will be published; and if he will make a statement.

The report on the review of direction signs is being published today and I have placed a copy in the Library, together with a copy of a letter which is being sent to those who commented. The report concludes that our present system of directional traffic signs is basically sound and still applicable to today's traffic conditions. However, it considers that there is scope for improving the application of current principles to ensure that signs are properly sited and there is continuity and consistency of information on them. We accept these conclusions of the report, and have already begun revising the traffic signs manual and related advice. In addition, arrangements are being made for a demonstration project at Guildford. I consider that good, clear signing is essential for road safety as well as making journeys easier for travellers.The report makes a number of recommendations for change. Those for a system of tourist attractions are already being implemented and I am pleased with the progress being made. In addition, it recommends elimination of the confusing distinction between signs on non-primary routes and those on local routes by using only signs with black borders in both cases. These and other changes will be considered in the context of current revision of the traffic signs regulations.The report also recommends development of standards for variable traffic signs so that the potential of these can be fully exploited in today's conditions. We accept this recommendation.I would like to make it clear that the report does not recommend the replacement of traditional fingerpost signs on minor rural roads where traffic is light and speeds are low. These and other similar historic signs can be a valuable enhancement of the local environment where they are compatible with modern traffic conditions.

We consider that the improvements and changes needed can be implemented without imposing an undue burden on local authorities if phased in with other expenditure which will be needed anyway to establish and renew signs. The report envisages a 10-year programme of implementation involving about £1 million a year extra expenditure by local authorities but at this stage we consider it premature to specify a timetable for completion of the action arising.

We will be happy to consider any comments which anyone may have on the outstanding recommendations of the report and the views of the local authority associations on cost implications will be particularly welcome. It would be helpful if these could be submitted by Monday 29 February 1988.