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Road User Voice – October 2015 – The signs are good, but what do users want?

30 October 2015

Transport Focus is working to make sure that the needs of road users are reflected when decisions about road signage are being made.

Traffic signs are the most familiar aspect of how highways authorities communicate with their users. Great Britain has a long-established way of doing this through the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ‘Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions’ (TSRGD).

It covers what signing local highway authorities and Highways England should or can erect on their roads. Signing should only be used for necessary safety and directional information, or to alert users to regulations that apply directly to them. It should not be used for more general, discretionary communication.

Transport Focus is outlining some principles we expect to apply to DfT’s recent consultation on this year’s round of proposed changes to the TSRGD. As we do for rail and bus passengers, we have highlighted the importance of clear and timely information to road users too. This includes through traffic signs where this can be done concisely and safely.

Our first piece of research in our roads role – Road Users’ Priorities for Improvement – found that ‘better signage on the (Highways England) network’ ranked 11th out of 17 identified priorities. We note that clear signing will also be a component in two other higher-ranking priorities: ‘better management of roadworks’ (4th) and ‘better notification to road users about future planned work’ (10th). Alongside this more general message, we submitted this month to DfT the formal response to eight quite detailed changes they proposed.

So far, the approach to what signing is needed has been driven by DfT ministers, working in conjunction with the practitioners in the highway authorities. The way we produce and use signs today is the result of frequent reviews and refinements. User organisations have played a part in reviews of the policy from time to time. However, we think it important to ensure that user needs and priorities are explicitly addressed in the future development of traffic signs policy and of what can appear on the roadside.

We will keep talking to the traffic policy team at DfT, as we develop our understanding of user requirements on the Strategic Road Network.

Transport Focus is working to make sure that the needs of road users are reflected when decisions about road signage are being made.

Traffic signs are the most familiar aspect of how highways authorities communicate with their users. Great Britain has a long-established way of doing this through the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ‘Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions’ (TSRGD).

It covers what signing local highway authorities and Highways England should or can erect on their roads. Signing should only be used for necessary safety and directional information, or to alert users to regulations that apply directly to them. It should not be used for more general, discretionary communication.

Transport Focus is outlining some principles we expect to apply to DfT’s recent consultation on this year’s round of proposed changes to the TSRGD. As we do for rail and bus passengers, we have highlighted the importance of clear and timely information to road users too. This includes through traffic signs where this can be done concisely and safely.

Our first piece of research in our roads role – Road Users’ Priorities for Improvement – found that ‘better signage on the (Highways England) network’ ranked 11th out of 17 identified priorities. We note that clear signing will also be a component in two other higher-ranking priorities: ‘better management of roadworks’ (4th) and ‘better notification to road users about future planned work’ (10th). Alongside this more general message, we submitted this month to DfT the formal response to eight quite detailed changes they proposed.

So far, the approach to what signing is needed has been driven by DfT ministers, working in conjunction with the practitioners in the highway authorities. The way we produce and use signs today is the result of frequent reviews and refinements. User organisations have played a part in reviews of the policy from time to time. However, we think it important to ensure that user needs and priorities are explicitly addressed in the future development of traffic signs policy and of what can appear on the roadside.

We will keep talking to the traffic policy team at DfT, as we develop our understanding of user requirements on the Strategic Road Network.

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