At present, the Weights and Measures Act requires local authorities and others to use yards rather than metres in signs measuring distance (although this is not often enforced against private companies, local authorities and government agencies tend to follow the legal requirement).

The relevant sections of the Act should be repealed to permit (not force) the use of metres instead of yards, where local authorities and others responsible for signage think it is appropriate. 

Why is this idea important?

We are a metric country. I was born in 1973 and taught entirely in metric measurements. Most people still think of long distances in miles, but the difference between yards and metres is so small that for practical purposes they are interchangeable.

The Weights and Measures Act, however, requires people erecting distance signs to use yards, and forbids the use of metres. This is an out-of-date requirement. Although some local authorities might prefer to retain yards for sentimental reasons, no-one in the country would be confused by a distance expressed in metres. It would also be simpler for tourists and others educated in the metric system, for whom the term "yards" is unfamiliar.

It is also worth noting the ridiculous situation that this law gives rise to on road signs, where the directions to local authorities require them to treat one yard as equal to one metre for signage purposes. So when a road sign says "Road works 800 yards ahead" they are actually 800 metres ahead (875 yards).  

This proposal would remove the requirement to use yards, and permit metric or imperial measures to be used at local discretion.

One Reply to “Allow metres rather than yards on distance signs”

  1. I totally agree. The UK is the ONLY country in the WHOLE WORLD that makes metric measures on road signs illegal! Not even the USA goes that far, and many US roads signs – speeds and distances – are dual signed near the Canadian and Mexican borders. The UK is so out of step with the ENTIRE REST OF TEHE WORLD that the government should be ashamed of itself, along with all those still wanting to persist with an outdated 14th century collection of measurement units virtually no-one else uses.

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