UK road sign review

AA/Populus panel says "too many road signs"

30 January 2009

Which way for road signs? - join the discussion in the AA zone

Half of UK motorists think that there are too many road signs, according to the latest survey results1 from over 8,000 AA Populus panel members. More than one fifth strongly agreed that there were too many.

The AA warns that too many signs leads to information overload. Road sign audits should therefore be set up to remove redundant or confusing signs.

Too many?

The survey also showed that agreement about there being too many road signs increased with age with only 38% of 18-24 years olds saying there were too many signs, whilst 66% of drivers over 65 agreed there were too many.


In terms of the usefulness of road signs over three quarters agreed (more than a quarter strongly) that not all road signs are useful. When asked what percentage of road signs drivers actually thought were useful, some 87% agreed that more than a half were useful and over 36% saying that three quarters were. Only 13% said that less than a half were useful. Interestingly, there was significantly less variation of view across the age range on this point.

Commenting on the results, AA President Edmund King said: "This survey comes at an important time for road signs in the UK with the Department for Transport carrying out a root and branch review of our signing system. It is clear that we need to rationalise some of our signing, however, a majority of signs are deemed useful. At times we do try to bombard the motorist with too much information, such as at junctions with more than 16 different signs. Essential signs include those crucial to road safety or those which help us avoid breaking the rules and getting a ticket."

"Clear direction signs or signs to an attraction can reassure drivers and allow them to concentrate on the road ahead. Too many signs confuse motorists. Highway Authorities also need to remove redundant signs and clamp down on illegal sign erectors."

The AA suggests that drivers planning a route can use a combination of methods such as the AA route planner, check the journey on a map, use a satnav and also keep an eye on the signs.

The condition of road signs

When it came to the condition of road signs, over a quarter (28%) did not agree that road signs were generally well maintained though (55%) agreed that they were.

Those most in agreement with this were those aged between 35 and 44 (59%) and those least likely to agree were those aged over 65 (49%).

Drivers in the south were most likely to agree that signs were generally well maintained (59%), whilst those in the North-East and East of England disagreed that they were well maintained (30%).

Edmund King continued: "Road signs are essential to road safety and getting around hassle free, but they must be in good condition and understood by all road users – now is the time to have your say on road signs, join our on-line AA Zone debate and we will make sure government transport officials take these views into account when they develop their new sign policies".

Results by age group

"There are too many road signs"

  • 18-24years 38% agree, 28% disagree
  • 25-34years 42% agree, 28% disagree
  • 35-44years 44% agree, 24% disagree
  • 45-54years 49% agree, 22% disagree
  • 55-64years 61% agree, 18% disagree
  • 65+years 66% agree, 14% disagree

"Not all road signs are useful"

  • 18-24years 78% agree, 8% disagree
  • 25-34years 75% agree, 11% disagree
  • 35-44years 74% agree, 12% disagree
  • 45-54years 75% agree, 11% disagree
  • 55-64years 80% agree, 9% disagree
  • 65+years 79% agree, 9% disagree

Regional variation

"Road signs are generally well maintained"

  • London 55% agree, 28% disagree
  • South 59% agree, 27% disagree
  • SW 56% agree, 29% disagree
  • Wales 50% agree, 29% disagree
  • E Midlands 56% agree, 27% disagree
  • East 54% agree, 30% disagree
  • Yorks & Humber 53% agree, 30% disagree
  • NW 57% agree, 28% disagree
  • NE 52% agree, 28% disagree
  • W Mids 57% agree, 27% disagree
  • Scotland 55% agree, 28% disagree
  • N ireland 57% agree, 25% disagree


1AA Populus panel survey of 8,110 carried out between 23 December 2008 and 5 January 2009

Department for Transport publication - Know your traffic signs (pdf document)

Department for Transport press release - launch of national road sign review


30 January 2009


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