The roads are littered with road signs but are they important?

A lot has been said over the years about the number of road signs, with some campaigning for a reduction. There are some locations where there is certainly an argument for a cull, but the real question is. Do drivers take any notice of road signs?

A while ago, we conducted a survey where driver trainers questioned company car drivers about the road signs. Whilst assessing drivers, the trainers would ask “What was the last road sign?” The instructions we gave to the trainers that they must ask the question after the driver had passed the sign, but before they had reached what the sign was warning about. Each trainer asked about 20 signs on a 15-mile route covering all types of roads.

The best driver could only identify 7 out of 20 signs correctly and the average was just 2 signs. As a road safety expert, I find it concerning that on average drivers notice just 10% of road signs.

Why are signs important? Well let’s look at the signs in the picture.

We know there is a junction to the left coming up, but where is it? Answer: It is just around the left-hand bend, and the reason I know that is because just before the oncoming van, there is a ‘finger post sign’ and these signs are always directly opposite the junction.

So now we know the exact location of the junction, is it important to us if we have no intention of turning into it? Well yes, it’s very important to know because as we can’t see into the junction, it is reasonable to think any vehicle emerging from the side road won’t be able to see us. So, what could we do to reduce the chance of an accident? We could do two things; one – slow down or at least be ready to brake, and two – position nearer to the hazard warning line. Hazard warning lines always indicate a fixed hazard such as a junction, bend or brow of a hill.

Now a quick test for you. What shape is a junction Stop and a Give Way sign?

If you answered a circle and a triangle, you need to check the Highway Code.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.