Guidance from the Department for Transport (DfT) spells out the legal requirements for variable message signs – and local councils are being urged to ensure all roadside units capable of displaying changing text or pictograms make the grade.
Brian Lyus, from the Association for Road Traffic Safety and Management (ARTSM), said: “Increasing numbers of authorities are now using digital signs to get their message across.
“But compliance and quality can sometimes be neglected in the face of price pressure. Guidance issued by the DfT recently spells out the requirements for variable message signs laid down in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD).
“It’s a reminder that councils must tread very carefully to ensure they don’t break the rules.”
Variable message signs hit national headlines last year when a unit showing a temporary speed limit was found to contravene the DfT guidelines.
Lyus says traffic displays must conform to the regulations or those using them face the risk of non-compliance and the creation of an unenforceable sign.
He added: “Some councils may still be unaware of legal requirements for the form of the displays as well as the messages, fonts and colours to be used on UK roads.
“And permanently-installed variable message signs must conform to EN 12966 and be CE marked. It’s obviously important to get signing right, both for maximum prominence and from aspects of safety and compliance.”
The DfT Traffic Advisory Leaflet spells out requirements for the signs on aspects including form of display, sign housing and messages.
And David Skinner, of Rennicks UK, believes anyone involved in the delivery of services for the road network should familiarise themselves with it.
He said: “The guidance enables local authorities and other highways operators to clearly see their obligations when it comes to signage.
“There’s no longer any ambiguity and, as the requirements are laid down in black and white, there’s also no excuse for getting it wrong.
“Our signs are a significant step forward in terms of technology and yet, importantly, they’re all fully compliant with DfT guidelines.
“Ultimately, it’s our customer who controls the displayed message, but at Rennicks, we also offer advice surrounding the lawful creation of road traffic signage.”