Drivers need road signs to avoid breaking speed limits

Thursday 19th July, 2012 at 13:07 COMMENTS (0)

Speed limits exist for a reason and it is to reduce your chances of getting involved in accidents. 

Speeding reduces the amount of time needed to avoid an accident and it increases the risk of suffering serious injuries if you happen to get involved in an accident. 

Yet, the recent release of The Department for Transport casualty figures for 2011, show an increase in road deaths for the first time since 2003. 

Although there are speed limits in place when driving on UK roads, there are still many people who drive too fast for those limits. 

In fact, surveys regularly conclude that the majority of drivers consistently break speed limits on a regular basis. 

Why is this?

The total road length in Great Britain in 2011 was estimated to be 245.0 thousand miles, an increase of 2.1 thousand miles (0.9%) over 10 years. 
Along those roads, road signs are everywhere and they are placed there for a reason. 

Road users depend on signing for information and guidance whilst highway authorities depend on signing for the efficient working and the enforcement of traffic regulations, for traffic control, and as an aid to road safety. 

Contrary to popular opinion, they are not there to give us headaches and irritate or annoy us. 

We have all encountered lots of drivers who both ignore them and flout the signs, indeed the law whilst many more simply, don't see them. 

A lack of effective observation on the part of the drivers could be a result of poor tuition, distraction, health issues or overload of information. 

It would be easy to blame reduced public spending on road safety, especially cuts to local authority and road policing budgets, but to be fair every Highways Agency is governed by laid out guidelines regarding positioning of road signs. 

Clear and efficient signing is an essential part of highway and traffic engineering and a road with poor signing or with badly maintained signs is an unsatisfactory road. 

Although speed limit signs may be installed correctly in the first place if they then disappear, become damaged or illegible, or are obscured from view, for example by foliage that is not trimmed back, then the relevant authorities should do more to replace and maintain road signs where this has occurred. 

I'm sure you can think of stretches of your local roads in Basildon, Thurrock, Havering or Southend that need more signs to strength the appreciation of speed limit. 

What is the speed limit in picture A and picture B?

Picture A:
Drivers need road signs to avoid breaking speed limits
Picture B:

Repeater signs

Signs must give road users their message clearly and at the correct time.  The message must be unambiguous and speedily understood; it must be given not too soon for the information to have been forgotten before it is needed, and not too late for the safe performance of consequent manoeuvres. 

In order to perform the function for which it is intended, repeater signs must be positioned clearly and at the right intervals between the first/last repeater signs and the start/end of a speed limit.  (Different recommendations apply according to the type of road). 

Do you know, on roads where there is an adequate system of lighting and the speed limit of 30mph applies, repeater signs are not required as it assumes that drivers will know that street lamps themselves act as signs to indicate the speed limit. 

Perhaps these guidelines and subsequent recommended distances for signs to be placed, need to be amended, to satisfy the distinct lack of road users understanding. 

It should be noted, that if the distances between repeater signs were significantly greater than those shown, that fact could be presented in court as evidence that the highway authority had failed to meet the requirements to provide repeater signs 'at regular intervals. 


Signage must be more easily visible to the driver and repeated to elevate the assumption of speed limits for particular stretches of road. 

If the highway authorities reconsidered the distances and placement of speed signs, fewer motorists would break the speed limit, indeed would be involved in road traffic incidents. 

I welcome your comments.


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