Reclassification of roads

AA warning on proposed council powers

3 February 2011

The government's proposal to allow councils to reclassify roads without referral to a central authority could confuse drivers and create boundary anomalies between council areas, the AA warns.

The Department of Transport has published a consultation on plans to allow councils to redesignate routes, perhaps from an A to a B road, so they can redirect traffic on to roads they choose.

This could be very significant and may lead to Britain's roads becoming disconnected

Paul Watters, AA Head of Public Affairs

"This could be very significant and may lead to Britain's roads becoming disconnected. Many roads pass through more than one local highway authority area and it would be crazy for one authority to give a road a different designation – imagine trying to follow a continuous route!" says Paul Watters, the AA's head of public affairs.

"This would add to bureaucracy not lessen it as local authorities would need to review any changes to cross boundary roads. There are many ongoing disputes already I'm sure.

"At present, there is a good degree of consistency, and the changes would mean a risk of losing that. It is difficult enough for map makers and sat nav producers to get up-to-date information on road number changes. If there were more changes, maps and digital databases would become out of date very quickly."

Road numbering policy should centre on the purpose of the route, the places it connects and its safety and traffic flow. Of course we need a 'clever' and responsive national system that can be tailored to local need, for example, to encourage traffic onto the safest and best route, but that must be one which remains as direct as possible.

We cannot have road number changes that ignore traffic needs and make it more awkward for drivers not wanted by local communities. Lost drivers will use more fuel and be at greater risk in road safety terms.