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Abolish the law that requires road signs to be illuminated

Comment 17th August 2010

The law that requires road signs to be illuminated with their own lamps should be repealed.

Many road signs in villages, towns and cities are illuminated with their own lamp,  which is unnecessary; it is unnecessary because road signs are reflective in car headlights; and it is unnecessary because they are already illuminated by the main street lights.

To illuminate such signs with a third source of light – their own lamp positioned above them – is a monumental waste of money, a major waste of energy and a big contributor to the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. The law requiring road signs to be independently lit should therefore be scrapped, to save taxpayers' money and to save the environment.

The disadvantages of individually lit road signs are:

1) The lighting units are costly to buy and install, wasting taxpayers' money.

2) The units are costly to maintain, wasting more money.

3) The units are costly to power, wasting money,

4) Collectively, road-sign lamps use a lot of energy and create harmful greenhouse gases. Many of the automatic light sensors or timers on these lamps are broken, meaning that even during the day they are turned on.

5) They are visual eyesores and a source of light pollution and ; even in well-lit cities and towns road-sign lamps spoil the urban environment, especially in old centres and conservation areas.

Highways and lighting engineers claim that road signs need their own illumination lamps for safety and information purposes, but they are wrong on two counts: a) they underestimate the reflective power of the signs; b) they underestimate the amount of light shed on them by ordinary street lights.

If you want proof that illuminated road signs are pointless, just go to the Netherlands. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I did NOT see a SINGLE road sign that had its own illuminating lamp – all relied on their reflective qualities and ambient lighting provided by ordinary street lights. I have travelled to many other European countries and, although I cannot categorically say that illuminated road signs do not exist, I do not recall seeing any.

If the Dutch and other European nations do not need illuminated road signs, nor do the British. Scrap them now.

Why does this matter?

 

My idea is important because it would save taxpayers' money, reduce energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, remove eyesores in attractive urban areas and reduce light pollution.

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