[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Are there too many road signs?
Road signs
Green campaigners are calling for county councils to clear up unnecessary street signs and road markings in rural areas of the UK.

So far only two highway authorities, West Sussex and Hertfordshire, have agreed to back the "Clutter Challenge" of the Campaign to Protect Rural England from the "disfigurement" of lanes and villages.

Some councils have pleaded a lack of resources to undertake a "clutter audit".

Do you think road signs are "clutter"? Would you prefer all the unnecessary ones to be taken down? Send us your comments and pictures.

Email your pictures to: yourpics@bbc.co.uk

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

Perhaps the Green campaigners would be happy if all of the road signs were taken down. Everyone who didn't already know their way around would get lost every time but the view would be unspoiled. Perhaps the pavement should be taken out as well. I think one difference between Europe and the US is that in Europe there are actually more than a handful of people who take these kinds of nuts seriously.
Mark, USA

I'm not sure how it is there, but here in Pennsylvania there has been an explosion in the number of signs simply telling us what to do. Everywhere you see signs saying "Buckle Up", or "D.U.I. enforcement Area", or "Beware of Aggressive Drivers". Enough already with he nanny-state telling us everywhere we go how to live, who to look out for, how to behave and where. It is an eyesore to the free soul.
Michael Nowak, Pittsburgh, USA

Despite living in the US, this problem still is relevant. 'Stop' signs are multiplying where there is absolutely no need for them. However, actually removing these signs would be a waste of tax dollars when most of us are willing to bite the bullet and stop more than we'd like to.
Loren Klick, Lake Villa, Illinois, USA

I've got Satellite Navigation so let's get rid of all the signs
Will, East Sussex, UK
I've got Satellite Navigation so let's get rid of all the signs.
Will, East Sussex, UK

Some areas seem to have a hideous number of signs. One road in Northamptonshire has so many warning signs about the danger that you can be certain people are distracted into crashing.
Keith Walker, Stafford, UK

It's not a case of there being too many, it's a case of them being in the wrong places where they aren't really needed.
Calvin, Peterborough

Are these really 'green' campaigners or, as is more likely, just nimby types and 'preserve our pretty, scenic villages' types. Surely it's a bit of an insult to the green party to refer to them as 'greens'
Maria, Sheffield

Someone must be making a good living out of manufacturing sings whether they are needed or not.
BD, Glasgow Scotland

Dave, Nottingham, signs on roads with no fixed cameras are there so that mobile cameras can operate legally.
Pete, Cheshire

LJS, Stockport, if the motorists were driving around avoiding pedestrians, then perhaps the police/council would not have to put up the signs. The fact they are doing so would indicate that there is a problem.
Jon Rigby, Grantham

The proliferation of badly designed signs is an indication of deskbound management by local government
Paul Armstrong, Bedford, UK
About time too. The proliferation of badly designed signs is an indication of deskbound management by local government officials who are satisfied to do the easy thing and cite 'safety' if challenged.
Paul Armstrong, Bedford, UK

Before Petersfield had its by-pass there was a dangerous bridge which had a total of 54 signs to warn drivers. After yet another fatal accident the chairman of the local Road Safety Committee suggested yet more signs! He later became leader of Hampshire County Council which might explain why there are so many pointless signs in the county.
Barry P, Havant

Being constantly nagged by road signs either telling me off, telling me what to do, or telling me how dangerous driving is, does nothing to reduce my stress levels. In fact, it does quite the opposite.
Sally, Sheffield

It's not that there are too many, but that they're often not well maintained and end up pointing in the wrong direction.
James Tandy, London

I'd rather have lots of direction signs than lots of drivers on the road trying to map read whilst driving
Rachel M, Bath, UK
I'd rather have lots of direction signs than lots of drivers on the road trying to map read whilst driving. I do think the "Priority to traffic from the right" signs on roundabouts in Bristol (and probably other places) are a bit unnecessary. Isn't that in the Highway Code?
Rachel M, Bath, UK

Whilst I agree with Joe, Camberley and others about town signs, I'm sure that most of these people who are moaning about "useless" road signs don't know what they mean anyway. They're put there for a reason, to give you advanced warning about what's ahead. If they weren't there, I think there would be many more crashes.
Dave, West Sussex

The countryside doesn't have enough road signs. I was driving down the wrong road for 30 minutes before I saw a sign telling me where I was going. More road signs!
A, London

I live in a very rural area and if it were not for sign posts getting about would be impossible. The highway authorities should be making signs that cannot be rotated by idiots who think that this is a great laugh, when in reality it is very dangerous.
Chris W, Lincolnshire

It's not so much the number of signs, but rather the relevance. What's the point of having 'new road layout' five years after it was changed?
David, Chelmsford

Direction signs are fine. It's the stupid warning ones that are unnecessary
Mark, Southport
Direction signs are fine. It's the stupid warning ones that are unnecessary: like "Beware of Deer" or "Falling Rocks". How on earth can you prepare yourself for such eventualities?!
Mark, Southport

The only road signs that need removing are the ones that lazy council workers leave behind when they have finished a dodgy repair.
Tracy, Hudds

These are not "Green campaigners". They are local busy bodies who are more concerned about the aesthetics of the countryside than the reality of the environment. They are probably the same bunch who don't like wind-farms because they make the countryside "look untidy" and might "upset ramblers".
Robbie, UK

The grey boxes on sticks used to house speed cameras are the ugliest street furniture. Can't the design be more sympathetic to the environment?
Mark, Boreham, UK

When travelling as a passenger, occasionally ask the driver what the last road sign you passed was. You'll probably find that they remark "What road sign?" or "Umm....."
Jamie, Staffordshire

"Welcome to Bracknell - twinned with Leverkusen". Need I say more?
Joe, Camberley
"Welcome to Bracknell - twinned with Leverkusen". Need I say more? Although I'm overjoyed that this town has a relative to depend upon in times of hardship, I think it's daft to have this pointless distraction at the side of the road half hidden by a bush. Put up a plaque in the town instead.
Joe, Camberley

There may be too many signs, but one thing that annoys me is the lack of street name signs. Why can't we have the system Australia - a pole on each street corner with the name clearly displayed for each road - up high where it can be seen and not at knee level behind parked cars.
Cameron, UK

There are too many road signs in rural areas, such as in parts of north Nottinghamshire. Direction signage I have no issues with, it's those areas where multiple versions of the same sign appear.
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK

We can definitely do without the huge number of signs that threaten us with speed cameras, even on roads where there are no speed cameras.
Dave, Nottingham

I recall driving in very thick fog, so thick that I could not read the sign in the centre of the motorway. So, taking great care, I changed lanes so I could read it through the fog only to find that it said 'Fog'.
John B, UK

Someone is making a lot of money from ground-based directional road signs
David Volta, London
Someone is making a lot of money from ground-based directional road signs. They're ubiquitous and very ugly. Anyone requiring such signs shouldn't be using the road.
David Volta, London

No! I remember passing long car journeys as a child by playing road sign bingo (I was easily entertained!). That aside, there are obvious benefits of warning of hazards and giving directions.
Katie, London

I think that there aren't enough road signs in rural areas. Many's a time I have been down country roads and lost my way. Most signs are for people not familiar with the area. Those complaining about the signs probably know the area like the back of their hands.
Andrew Burt, Derbyshire

As a Hertfordshire resident I groaned when I read this. I don't want my local authority spending valuable taxpayers' money removing or replacing existing signs - they've already wasted enough on 'traffic calming' measures, like speed humps which are stupidly positioned in areas of heavy traffic where its virtually impossible to speed anyway. At the same time essential road repairs are being neglected, and I average one punctured tyre every six months due to the terrible condition of the road surface on my route to work. Councils - get your priorities right!
Anon, UK

Too many signs causes confusion
Chris Davies, Chippenham
Yes too many road signs. I recently spent a few weeks driving though France, down the side then up the middle and it was a joy to see the road and the countryside, uncluttered with signs everywhere, as well as speed cameras. Too many signs causes confusion, if you want to know how to get somewhere, get a map and learn to use it.
Chris Davies, Chippenham

I disagree - there should be more signs! Every road and bend should have individual speed limits based on the actual conditions (presence of homes or schools, sharpness of bend, etc.), so the driver learns to treat them seriously, unlike the meaningless blanket speed limits in most places, which most drivers treat with the contempt they deserve.
Harry Lee, London, England

There should be a ban on the brown 'heritage' signs. Since when has it been OK for taxpayers money to be spent advertising (in most cases) private businesses?
Martin, Bromsgrove, UK

In Lincolnshire I know of a few areas were there are national speed limit signs and then lower speed limit signs just a few meters later! A total waste of time.
Mike Chiocci, Lincoln, UK

If all the road signs were a genuine warning of danger, or clear information about which town or area you were travelling towards, I would say our road signs should stay. But when around half the road signs I see are full of completely useless information or half obliterated by trees etc., they are obviously of no real use to the average road user. They should be removed, as they inevitably cause more problems than they solve by distracting attention away from the real task of driving. That applies two-fold to bill boards, which serve no useful purpose.
Elaine, Letchworth Garden City UK

Councils lack resources to undertake a "clutter audit?" Well that is because they are probably too busy hunting parts of roads where they have forgotten to cover with white/yellow paint. Local government authorities think it is their job to make rules and restrictions.
Charles Smith, Brockley UK

I dread to think how much money has been wasted on signs that state facts of zero value to the motorist. Examples include: Congestion - when your stuck. Accident ahead - with no information about appropriate action. 50 mph when no obstruction etc. etc. In France signs like jam - 20 minutes to junction 'x', HGV keep to inside lane going up a hill etc. seem to make more of a contribution to stress free motoring. The wasted money would be better spent on filling in the holes in the road.
Chris, Nottingham - England

The signage situation is crazy. All signs except for direction signs should be removed. If you need signs to tell you what's happening ahead you're not concentrating or you're driving too fast. Incidentally, the beige tarmac that we're seeing more and more of is not there to look pretty. It's shellgrip, a high performance coating to give you more chance of stopping when you brake too late- probably when you've been distracted by the unnecessary signage!
Peter, Spalding, Lincs

How about the proliferation of larger and larger motorway matrix signs?
Bryan, Edinburgh
How about the proliferation of larger and larger motorway matrix signs? These used to be for indicating lane closures or some emergency ahead. Now they nag you to every few hundred yards to "Watch your speed", "Keep your distance", "Take a break", "Blow your nose", etc, etc. It's a pity they don't just say "Ignore this message and keep your eyes on the road".
Bryan, Edinburgh

The ones that get me are the ones that tell you how many deaths and accidents there have been on the road (the A24 is a good example). It means drivers end up looking away from the road (dangerous) to read a sign only to find it's telling you how many people died on the road. It's just making the road more dangerous as drivers attention is unnecessarily distracted from the road ahead.
Jon Combe, Woking, UK

Too many road signs? Absolutely not, they show us which directions to take, with a loss of them don't know what we'd do.
Scott Spackman, Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire

It is not the road signs that bother me. My only form of transport is my motorcycle and the only gripe I would have is that there always seems to be either a raised manhole or a sunken manhole exactly where I need to position my motor cycle to enable me to ride safely. I can ride all the way to the south of France and yet I never see one in the road. Where do they position their manholes?
Dave Harding, Abingdon, England, UK

Why is it destination signs vanish when you are three miles away from your intended journey's end leaving you totally confused as where to go next.
Toby Coulson, Cobham, Surrey

The most annoying thing about signs and other "street furniture" is where it is situated; usually in the most inconvenient places on the pavement! Many signs are situated so far back from the actual kerb that they become an obstacle to the pedestrians trying to walk there. Near my home is a sign so large that it requires two poles to support it; these are situated so close together that people with pushchairs cannot pass between them, and thus are forced into the road to bypass it. Why do signs intend for motorists have to be situated on the pavement anyway? Why can't they be situated over the road, or is that too obvious for the idiots who plan these things?
Rob, London, UK

In Wales we have to suffer road signs in two languages
Adam Johns, Cardiff, UK
In Wales we have to suffer road signs in two languages! One of which is Welsh, despite there being very few Welsh speakers in the area and not a single person in Wales who speaks it exclusively.
Adam Johns, Cardiff, UK

What I want to know is, why are there so many signs in the most unlikely places warning us to beware of deer?
Katharine, Leicester, UK

Katharine, Leicester, UK. You get caution deer signs in "unlikely places" for the simple reason that you get deer in unlikely places. Inner city suburbs of Leicester (esp. Knighton & Oadby) have little Muncjak deer (20" high) roaming wild in back gardens. Go south between Leicester & Market Harborough (esp. round Great Glen) and there's lots of Roe deer who often graze in gardens & churchyards. Hit one of those at 60mph and it could be fatal (for you + the deer)- it'll certainly take the front off your car. Hence the warning.
Peter, Nottingham

One of the many recent accidents on the M4 in Wiltshire (since they introduced cameras) was caused when somebody ran off the road to avoid somebody else and hit a sign warning them of speed cameras! They didn't stop that accident!!
Chris, Reading, UK

Extraneous signs might just be an eyesore or distraction for drivers, but can turn an unpleasant accident into a fatal one for a motorcyclist.
Andy Wilson, Hastings, UK

All roads users are faced with information overload due to the excessive number of signs now used. A reduction in signage would lead to better safety by drawing peoples' attention to direction, hazard and speed limit signs. That assumes that people know what signs mean!
Fred Rayner, Cobham, Surrey

Anyone who thinks road signs are bad in this country should try driving in South Africa. Trying to get back to Johannesburg from Sun City, you have to follow signs to all of the intermediate towns first, before finally getting a sign to the biggest city in South Africa. That's like setting off from Reading headed east on the M4, and not having any signs to London until you hit Hammersmith!
Rob Wingfield, Reading, UK

The only sign they have not got is one indicating where our school is! The council wants to charge us 300 for that one
Maggie, Bury, England

I drive one-and-a-half miles to the school where I work, and pass two other schools. There are yellow signs, red road markings, white stripes and traffic islands virtually every ten yards on that journey. The parents still park where they like, the children still cross without looking and not at the lollypop crossing. The only sign they have not got is one indicating where our school is! The council wants to charge us 300 for that one.
Maggie, Bury, England

Maggie from Bury - you live one and a half miles away from your place of work and you drive there? That is a 15 minute walk - and you wouldn't need to look at any road signs!
Mike, Barnet, UK

Of course there is too much 'clutter' on our roads. The worst form of this clutter is the excessive number of cars in this country. Our family has never owned a car and has no intention of doing so. As soon as people start walking and cycling shorter distances there will be a huge difference in the volume of traffic on the roads since the vast majority of car journeys are less than 3 miles in length. I was shocked to read that Maggie of Bury drives 1.5 miles to work! I think nothing of walking 2 miles to work and back again.
Jennifer, Knaphill, UK

The signage in this country is an insult to our intelligence. There are signs near me warning that there is a sign up ahead. Worse than that, for many people they are a danger. It's nigh on impossible to read all the road signs at some junctions. Many people end up in the wrong lane or turning the wrong way. Then they panic, with all the consequences that entails.

Also, they are a hindrance to things like tourism. It's a pleasure to find your way around France because they make the road signs easy to understand. Plus the same system of signage is in use in every town. Not here it isn't. Our bureaucrats' insatiable appetite for meddling means that it can be a nightmare trying to get from A to B. There needs to be a widespread clear out of this kind of pointless clutter.
David, Edenbridge

There are too many roads, let alone road signs
Marc, London
I think there are too many roads, let alone road signs. 60% of the land in some of our larger cities is consumed by roads.
Marc, London

How are people going to find their way around rural areas if there are fewer road signs?
Joe, London

Since when were roads meant to be pretty? So many rural towns and villages have been ruined by having roads sliced through them. I can't believe we're worrying about whether road signs are pretty or not. If roads are necessary, so are the signs to go with them.
Kate Griffin, Oxford

This is not just a rural problem. There is far too much street clutter full stop. Road signs, parking signs, CPZs, congestion zone markings, road humps, red bus lanes. This seems particularly acute in London where you see a pole about every three - four metres. Our streets are starting to resemble a crazy-golf course. Our environment is being ruined.
Julian E, London

Absolutely, especially in London. This morning I found myself going down a bus only road, the exclusion signs having merged into the dozens of others. On the other hand, road names and destination signposts seem to be a dying breed.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

The pointless exercise of laying different coloured tarmacs should cease
Nigel, Herts

While signs can be an eyesore, and in certain places I would agree there are too many, there are also plenty of places where signs would be welcomed, especially when one is lost in an unfamiliar area. However, the pointless exercise of laying different coloured tarmacs should cease - these soon break up leaving a rough patchy surface anyway and add nothing except confusion!
Nigel, Herts

Where I live especially on a Sunday the police put up road signs everywhere stating "Caution - cycle race in progress". Replace the word cycle with motor bike or car and there would be uproar. Where in the Highway Code does it state that cyclists are allowed to race on public roads with the blessing of the police? I would like these road signs to disappear along with the pushbikes.
Alan Baker, Chelmsford, Essex

To Alan Baker, Chelmsford, Essex: I would like to refer him to the Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960, which specifically allows bicycles to race on public highways. I would also like to point out that these signs are to protect the safety of perfectly legitimate highways users.
Mike Wright, Leicestershire

There are too many, and they are increasing. There are now signs to vague areas ("Western Lake District" on the A66, for example) that I can only assume are for people who set out randomly without looking at a map, or much of an idea where they are.
Simon, UK

My pet hate with road signs is a lack of consistency. In one area you may find a gradual and shallow corner marked with five or six signs, whereas elsewhere you can find a sharp right angled corner with almost no warnings whatsoever.
Dudley Nelson, Ilkley, UK

There are far too many road markings on our carriage ways and footpaths. It looks unsightly and ruins many locations.
Carol A Partington, Nether Poppleton, York

We should put up some "No hippies" road signs to deal with these Green campaigners.
Ricky, Surrey

A bigger problem is too many cars.
Mick, Cambridge, UK

I think the old Maxim "Less is more" applies well here. Too many signs are put up in the countryside and in cities so we end up suffering from sign fatigue and taking no notice of those marking genuine danger spots.
Edd Fawcett, London

I think road planners have been given too many colours in their palette. Red cycle lanes and bumps, black and white humps, green bus lanes, yellow lines, big white speed signs on the roads and now beige sections just before traffic lights. It's like a child's colouring book!
Paul O, Halifax, UK

Road sign in Egypt (Ron Williams)
Ron Williams, UK says, "Our road signs are not as interesting as those abroad!"

All the problems in this world and they are complaining about too many road signs!
Lianne, Manchester

Way too many road signs and road paintings. If drivers are that blind to road conditions what are they doing having a licence in the first place?
Nigel, Pocklington

It's not just rural areas that need de-cluttering. Where I live in Greater London the amount of road signs and markings is ridiculous. The councils plead poverty but can afford to repaint vast stretches of road way with a plethora of different markings that no one understands. Road signs themselves can be so confusing as to add danger to road users rather than be informational as intended.
Christine, London

I agree that redundant signs should be removed - but many signs that the Greens consider unnecessary are probably useful to people who are unfamiliar with the road.
Chris B, Bedford

Having recently been on holiday in California and seen their road signs, I think that ours are fine as they are - visible enough, easily readable, and not too many of them. Apart from at junctions, there seem to be fewer road signs on our roads compared to California's.
Guthrie Stewart, Edinburgh

If I looked at every road sign I would end up going into the back of a car
Simon, UK
If I looked at every road sign I saw I would end up going into the back of a car at some point. The best I can hope for is I look at the useful ones and avoid overloading my brain with the other irrelevant roadside distractions.
Simon, UK

If road clutter includes three dozen or so traffic lights concentrated within ten square metres then yes, I'm in favour of reducing road clutter.
D Brown, York

One of the major problems I have found while driving in this country is the lack of road signs which is incredibly frustrating. Please, do not take away the few road signs especially in the rural areas, it is already difficult as it is and focus on the real problems instead!
Richard, London, UK

It's not only an excess of road signs but markings as well. Why do we have to have bright red cycle lanes for instance, a real eyesore if ever there was one.
Rob, Gloucester, UK

It's the way how they are put up (if available) that leaves a chaotic sight
Richard, Cambridge

You got to be joking right? Signposting is poor at best in the UK, trying to find your way around England as a foreigner must be awful, I found myself lost on many an occasion, in those cases simple (clear) signposting would have done the trick. It's the way how they are put up (if available) that leaves a chaotic sight.
Richard, Cambridge

There are far too many unnecessary road signs around, and something has to be done. A prime example is near where I live - next to the entrance to Asda, there is a directional sign that says "Superstore". Why? You can hardly miss it!
James Hadfield, Mansfield, UK

I'm sorry to say that I would rather have too many road signs than too little. When driving here in Glasgow they all of a sudden vanish and you have to guess which way you are going. Not exactly safe is it?
Julie, Glasgow

There's too much street clutter everywhere, and much of it is seemingly ugly on purpose. So much could be better.
David, Kent

Many of them are, especially our local police/council initiative signs asking motorists and pedestrians to look out for each other. What do you want us to do, watch the road or read as we drive?
LJS, Stockport, UK

Yes! Starting from the premise that all signage is ugly, the case should have to be made for retention. Many signs duplicate one another (for instance, often on both sides of the road); many are pointless and plain reckless ("National Speed limit applies" on country lanes on Dartmoor, for example); and many lull drivers into a false sense of security ("sharp bend" interpreted as: you can drive fast up to the bend... no! Drive carefully at all times). So, yes, tear them down.
Tod, Barnstaple

Yes except when you want one.
Chris, Monmouthshire

How utterly ridiculous. I, for one, am quite happy to have road signs telling me where to go, and to be warned of hazards, such as bendy roads and humps. Whatever will they think of next?
Emma, Leeds

I believe most road signs are necessary for drivers whether it be for directions, information or more importantly safety. I think money could be better spent than on de-cluttering.
David, Essex





PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific