From displaying speed limits to informing drivers of traffic flow, road signs play a vital role in advising and directing road users’ behaviour, to help make the roads as safe as possible for everyone.
Whilst having driving experience is all very well, it’s not enough if your knowledge is simply out of date. And, with the introduction of new formats and signs, drivers who passed their tests several years ago may find it difficult to remember the meaning behind the many signs that appear on Britain’s roads.
How confident are you that you know Britain’s road signs inside out? Take our road signs quiz now to see just how many you can identify!
A brief history of British road signs
With many signs dotted along Britain’s roads, have you ever wondered how they got there?
If you look back to the 1950s, road signs were extremely unclear. Traffic signs consisted of a confusing mixture of various symbols, colours and lettering, produced by the Ministry of Transport, local councils and motoring/cycling organisations. During the early sixties, there was simply no system in place to ensure the signs were consistent for all road users.
With more and more people acquiring cars, the Government called upon Walter Worboys, Director of ICI and Chair of the Council for Industrial Design, to review signage on all British roads.
As a consequence of the 1963 review, a new system was recommended, which took its cue from the one created five years earlier for Britain’s first motorway. After the success of their big and bold motorway signs, Jock Kinneir, and his former student Margaret Calvert, were charged with taking the principals from their motorway signage system and apply it throughout the entire road network.
They created new signs and remodelled existing ones, based on the European protocol, which consists of three basic types; triangular signs to warn, circles for commands and rectangles for information.
Road signs in Britain today
The number of signs on our roads more than doubled from 2.45 million in England in 1993 to an estimated 4.57 million in 2013.
We live in times of change, and society, technology and the economy all play a considerable part in evolving the way we travel.
With such developments, new road signs conveying new messages and in new formats are introduced from time to time, meaning drivers need to keep up-to-date or run the risk of failing to understand or comply with recently introduced important signs.