End of road for signs that make no sense


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The Independent Online

It is the new peril threatening rural tranquility. Ancient bridges have been wrecked, trees uprooted, lamp-posts knocked over and walls flattened.

Country lanes have even been blocked for days as lost truckers, sent down the narrowest of roads because of the relentless logic of their satellite navigation systems, found their juggernauts wedged between hedgerows or stone cottages.

A Czech man spent three nights in his cab after his 40-tonne articulated lorry became stuck on a bend on a Devon road until it was towed away by a tractor.

A village road in Cheshire was blocked for a day after a trucker following his sat-nav's directions up a twisting steep hill came to grief.

Now lorry drivers will have no excuse for such blunders. New warnings to them to ignore their sat-nav instructions and take a different route are to be put up on country lanes in the biggest overhaul of Britain's road signs for 40 years.

Other new signs unveiled yesterday include signs for electric car recharging points and "no entry except cycles" signs alerting cyclists to contraflow lanes in one-way streets. The moves are aimed at modernising the advice to road-users and are also designed to sweep away the confusing – and occasionally contradictory – jumble of signs on main routes and to encourage councils to make roads more user-friendly.

Pedestrian crossings could be fitted with the "countdown timers" familiar in the US and many European countries, while estimated journey times could be added to cycle route signs.

Ministers hope to slash the number of signs by relaxing rules requiring some – such as those indicating the start of a pedestrian zone – to be placed on both sides of a road.