Cul de Sac for Old Road Signs

Rural peace and quiet is being threatened by a new peril: satellite navigation. Trees have been uprooted, ancient bridges destroyed, walls flattened and lampposts knocked over by motorists following instructions from systems programmed with faulty information.


A Czech lorry driver had to spend three distressful nights in his truck­s cab after it became stuck on a narrow Devon road. A small-town road in Cheshire was blocked after a truck driver, following directions from his satellite navigation system, ended up on a steep winding road, too narrow to navigate.


The government has at last decided to do something about the situation. In the biggest overhaul of the UK­s road signs in 40 years, they will put up warnings to drivers on roads where they should ignore instructions from their satellite navigation systems and take alternative routes.


Other new signs that will soon start making their appearance are «no entry except cycles­ signs on certain narrow country roads, and signs showing the way to electric vehicle recharging points. The aim is to modernise advice to drivers and to get rid of confusing and sometimes even contradictory signs.  


As in the US and some European countries, pedestrian crossings could soon get «countdown timers­. Cycle routes might also soon be fitted with signs indicating the estimated journey time.


An often quoted example of confusing road signage is that of a junction near Oldham in Greater Manchester, where signs simultaneously tell motorists not to turn right, not to turn left, to keep to the 40mph speed limit and to give way.

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