One of the biggest sources of problematic traffic signs are temporary ones. These are often thrown together with little consideration for legibility or utility and act to simply tick a box in many cases.
What this article is about though are those signs that lead the way to new housing developments. These signs are notorious for being usually both badly designed and for outstaying their legal welcome.
Above: three different designs of housing estate sign on a single lighting column.
These signs are quite simple to design. The relevant working drawings are reproduced here:
DfT Working Drawings – P2701
As is often the case with such signs, there is little enforcement of design rules by local authorities who simply do not have the resources to chase rogue developers who do their own thing. A point I always make is that people defend poor practice by asking “does it really matter?”, and the answer is yes it does! These non-reflective signs using incorrect typefaces and wrong x-heights are often difficult to read, and thus pose a distraction hazard and can compromise road safety.
The guidance on the use of temporary signs typically varies by local authority, but the basics are all derived from the current TSRGD which states that such signs must be taken down six months after the completion of the development. Now there is often some wrangling here as some people will define “complete” as the exact moment the final house is built, and others will argue it is the exact moment the final house is occupied. The TSRGD doesn’t actually provide a definition of complete for this purpose, so the interpretation is down to local authorities. Personally I would suggest it is the former, rather than the latter as some developments take a long time to reach full occupancy.
In short, if these signs must be installed then Dia 2701/Dia 2701.1:
- Should conform to the working drawing and TRSGD;
- Should be installed only where navigation to a development is difficult;
- Should not obscure other signs;
- Should never be erected on the same post as safety-critical signs;
- And should not be left in-situ for longer than the prescribed time period.
Remember, the elimination of sign clutter starts by not erecting clutter in the first place. If a sign is not necessary, then do not authorise its installation. No-one is obliged to provide these signs so do not fall for pressure to provide them unless there is a compelling need.