Traffic signage in the United Kingdom is a general term better defined by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as the provision of:
any object or device (whether fixed or portable) for conveying, to traffic on roads or any specified class of traffic, warnings, information, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions of any description –
and any line or mark on a road for so conveying such warnings, information, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions
- (a) specified by regulations made by the Ministers acting jointly, or
- (b) authorised by the Secretary of State,
which, in simple terms, means anything that has either been prescribed by the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions or been specially authorised by the Secretary of State for Transport (in reality by civil servants acting on behalf of the Secretary of State).
The current system of traffic signs was introduced in 1964 following the publication of the Worboys report, although experiments on motorways were carried out and detailed earlier by the Anderson report in 1962. Over the following fifty years, signs were developed and altered to reflect modern traffic needs, leading up to the publication of Signing the Way in 2011, a document that aims to map out the future of traffic signs for the next fifty years.
Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland the use of traffic signs is governed by the Traffic Signs Manual although the Road Traffic (Signs) Regulations 1997 prescribe warning and regulatory signs. The current system of signing was introduced in 1956, and is unique in Europe owing to the use of yellow diamonds – rather than the conventional European triangle – to warn road users of hazards. The Irish signing system is mostly based upon that of the United Kingdom; however, there are some notable differences.
Types of Signage
A Regulatory Sign is a sign instructing you that you must or must not do something.
An Information Sign is a sign used to convey information to a driver
A Warning Sign is designed to warn of a danger or hazard ahead.