BWMA is a consultee
to Department of Transport consultations. As such, we were invited in 2001 to
comment on the DTLR's new Traffic Sign Regulations, due to be implemented in
2002. We reproduce below our response in full:
Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR),
Date: November 10th, 2001.
TRAFFIC SIGNS REGULATIONS AND GENERAL DIRECTIONS 2001 -
Our Association is involved in the protection of UK weights and measures and
promoting their appropriate use. As such, we would like to comment on the
proposal contained within the draft 2001 Traffic Regulations to permit dual
imperial-metric vehicle width restriction signs.
are aware that provision already exists for metric width signs so long as
authorities install them alongside, and not in place of, imperial signs. Our
association understands that the proposal for dual width signs is therefore to
reduce sign "clutter".
|Imperial-only width restriction sign
"dual" width restriction sign
Clear and accurate width and height restriction signs are important
to help prevent vehicles striking the sides and ceilings of bridges. BWMA
understands that the DTLR's view is that dual metric-imperial signs can help to
reduce such accidents, particularly along routes used by Continental lorry
BWMA is concerned, however, that the proposed design of the new dual
width signs (figure 629A) is in conflict with existing national policy that
states imperial units are the primary system of measurement on traffic signs.
This clash arises because the design of the new sign places feet/inches in a
secondary and less prominent position to metric, ie below the metric, and in a
smaller type size.
With regards to government policy, BWMA notes that:
enjoys an exemption from EC directive 89/617 relating to the use of imperial
units, including feet and inches, for road and traffic purposes, meaning that
there is no pressure on Britain to change its signs by any given date.
- DTLR has
indicated to BWMA that it no current plans to change the current arrangements,
at least until, "
the majority of drivers have been educated in the metric
system", and that "it is considered that the benefits of changing signs will
outweigh the very substantial costs".
- The draft
2001 Traffic Regulations do not propose the de-authorisation of imperial-only
width/height signs, nor do they to compel the use of dual signs.
- The draft
2001 regulations do not authorise metric-only signs.
the current time, therefore, and for the foreseeable future, the DTLR regards
feet, inches, yards and miles as the primary system for traffic signs. With
this policy in place, it is illogical for metric to be more prominent on signs
that are purely optional and on which metric may only supplement imperial, not
view of the national position, BWMA believes that the proliferation of "metric
prominent" signs is likely to lead to confusion, as already been seen in the
case of dual height signs (figure 629.2A), where a very similar design is used,
|Dual height restriction sign (November 2001)
the above picture, while feet and inches are visible, the design of the sign
induces drivers to look at the metric first. A result this has been to cause
widespread uncertainty as to which is the primary system for height purposes,
resulting in many businesses such as petrol stations giving vehicle
restrictions in metric only, for instance:
makes no reference to 6'-6"
reference to 8'-10"
DTLR has indicated to BWMA previously that any conversion to metric (should it
take place) must happen quickly to prevent accidents. Yet, the use of
metric-prominent signs is leading to precisely the opposite scenario: piecemeal
and haphazard conversion in the private sector that has no relation to
government policy on signs for public roads.
Another source of inconsistency lies within the Regulations
themselves, since the proposed dual width and existing height signs also
conflict with other diagrams that refer to restrictions, for instance, diagrams
780, 780.1A and 780.2A:
These signs clearly show feet and inches as the primary system since
metric is placed afterwards and in brackets. Such an emphasis makes sense in
light of the national position and does not mislead motorists as to which is
the main system.
Proposal: BWMA believes that the DTLR should reconsider the design of
both the new dual width sign (629A) and the existing dual height sign (629.2A).
Specifically, we suggest the following:
That the size of the type indicating the number of metres is reduced to be no
larger than the imperial.
That the positioning of the metric and imperial indications is reversed to
place the imperial at the top and metric at the bottom.
iii) That metric is placed in brackets. This will make the
relationship between the two systems clear: imperial is primary; metric is
look forward to hearing the outcome of the consultation in due course.
Yours sincerely, etc...