It’s amazing what thoughts pass through my mind when i’m huddled in a train carriage with about 30/40 morning-angsted commuters. As I stood on the train, reluctantly intimate with my fellow commuters, I started to recall an article I had in What Car? magazine about the possibility of de-cluttering roads of too many signs. I guess this thought must have occurred as I felt the cluttered environment around me.
I decided to dig into the magazines archive and find what I could from this article and if there were anymore related articles. I fount the first had been written in September 2008 and was titled ‘Road Signs Under Review’, which stated the Department of Transport was reviewing road signs.
“The study will look at the effectiveness of the current signs in a bid to make roads safer, and will consider more widespread use of the latest traffic sign technology to ease congestion and aid traffic flow.”
However this was more of an article that questioned the idea of taking current old signs and developing new ones, rathe than complete eradication of some road signs.
I found another related article less than a year later on February 2009, this one simply entitled ‘Drivers Find Road Signs Confusing’. This gave us some interesting statistics on age-relation to the perception of road sign numbers.
“A poll of 8000 motorists, carried out by the AA, showed that only 38% of drivers aged 18-24 said there were too many road signs, while 66% of those aged over 65 believed there were too many.”
A third online article ‘Naked Streets-Introduction’ from January 25th 2010 got more to the point on the idea of de-cluttering our roads.
“A high density of visual clutter slows down the search times for important visual information, and makes it harder for drivers to pick out traffic lights and other safety signs’, said the Campaign to Protect Rural England two years ago, noting a ridiculous 45 signs per mile on the B3006 in Hampshire”
This high number of road signs shocks me, as a driver myself I understand the problem as it can be irritating to receive so many mixed signals. The other day I was exiting the motorway and had 3 identical signs along the road sign, feeding me the same information about traffic light signalling at the end of the road. 3 identical signs, right near each other. ridiculous! If road signs in abundance aren’t confusing you, the lack of signs where you actually need them will drive you just as potty.
I thought it would be interesting to experiment with ‘before and after’ style imaging. I took an image of a bicycle roundabout near a main road from Google and quickly edited it on Photoshop to give a rough representation of what I am researching.
Here you can see what i’ve done (yes the edge of the roundabout itself isn’t edited well but i’m still learning) and it’s amazing to see the difference when signs are eliminated. Now i’m not saying lets remove all road signs and pedestrian signs, as that will have a devastating effect but rather we should at look at reducing the production and placement of so many signs that can be unnecessary and costly for the government. This could lead to a cleaner, healthier looking environment.
Below i’ve done similar editing with a Google image of the A3 Kingston bypass.