Rules on the placing of signs are set out in the Traffic Signs Manual. The signs themselves must comply with the requirements of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002. In all cases signs must be approved by the Traffic Authority prior to them being set up. The following advice should also be taken into account when deciding where and how to place signs.
They should be placed:
to avoid obstructing those using the footway or vehicles in the road.
to avoid obstructing the sight lines for traffic or pedestrians at crossing points or junctions.
with due consideration to people with disabilities and people using pushchairs or wheelchairs.
sandbagged, where appropriate, so as to minimise the chances of them being blown over.
to avoid obstructing existing signs and traffic signals
attached in such a way as to avoid damaging poles. Permission must also be obtained from Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) (email@example.com) before attaching signs to lamp or illuminated sign columns.
Sign set up and removal should not normally be undertaken during peak traffic times (usually 7am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6.30pm) and signs should not include any form of advertising or contact details. Signs should normally be set up no earlier than two days before the event (unless other timescales have been agreed with the Traffic Authority and SSE if appropriate),
Signs attached to existing poles should be erected at a minimum height of 2100mm or 2400mm when over a cycle network and 450mm back from the edge of any carriageway.
Signs of surface area greater than 0.3m2 should not be fitted to lamp or illuminated sign columns. Signs fitted to lamp or illuminated sign columns should not obstruct any access panels or the lamp itself.
Signs should never be affixed to any posts which already support any of the following signs; STOP, GIVE WAY, “no entry”, speed limit signs, traffic signals. Signs should also not be affixed to posts that have existing triangular warning signs on them.
The clarity of any signs to be used is absolutely critical for the safety of all road users. When planning to place signs you should ask yourself the following question;
“Will someone coming along the road or footway from any direction be able to tell at a glance exactly what is happening and what is expected of them?”
If the answer is no then your sign schedule or placement is wrong and may create dangers. You should review your schedule with a view to improving the layout and/or the types of signs used.
Signs left out overnight, located in residential areas, near to pubs or left during severe weather may be subject to theft, vandalism or damage. Accordingly, event organisers should make plans for regularly check the condition of the signs and maintain them as necessary. Inspection schedules should be included in the sign schedule.
Placing, maintaining and removal of signs on a ‘live’ road is hazardous and should be identified on any risk assessment. Measures should be taken to ensure that the signs are placed and removed safely and that they will not cause either a physical or visual obstruction to vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
Placing, maintaining and removal of signs should always be undertaken by a ‘competent’ person. Appropriate competency will depend on the nature of the event and the road where the signs are being placed. However, as a minimum, anyone placing or removing signs should be:
an adult and physically fit to carry and place / remove the sign.
wearing appropriate, high visibility clothing.
briefed on the exact requirements of the sign schedule.
aware of the road and the dangers involved.
Additionally, to place or remove signs on high risk roads or locations, and in the interests of safety, a competent person will be someone who holds valid qualifications under unit 0002 (signing, lighting and guarding), New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. Alternatively, similar qualifications such as the National Highway Sector Scheme (modules 12D T1 and T2) may also be acceptable. A high risk road or location will depend on a number of factors such as the type of road, timing of the sign placement, speed limit and traffic volumes. Some examples of ‘high risk’ roads or locations could be:
placing signs on roads during peak traffic times
placing signs on roads with no footway and with a speed limit of 50mph or greater.
placing signs on the central reservation of a road with a speed limit of 50mph or greater
The Traffic Authority giving advice on signage or the authority approving a road closure will be able to advise on whether sites are considered high risk and therefore where such qualifications are strongly advised. The Traffic Authority is likely to ask for evidence of such qualifications being held by those placing the signs.
Once the event is over, it is essential the signs, including temporary traffic lights, be collected as soon as possible, usually no later than the day after. The event organiser should agree a date and time of removal with the Traffic Authority (and SSE if appropriate) and ensure the signs are removed on time and safely. Any signs left on site beyond the time stated in the schedule may have to be cleared away by the district council, the Traffic Authority or the police and a charge may be made for such service.
Purchasing signs and training staff may be expensive, so clubs / groups may want to find ways of minimising these costs by:
grouping together to purchase equipment / train members.
seeking assistance or sponsorship from responsible highway contractors, such as utility companies.
Portable traffic signals and stop/go boards are another type of ‘sign’ and are a common sight at road works. They are also occasionally used at events to control traffic movements. They can cause serious traffic congestion and are a potential safety hazard if not used correctly. So their use must be clearly needed, well defined and carefully planned. Appropriate equipment must be obtained from a reputable supplier and must be fit for purpose.
If portable traffic signals are used then stop / go boards must also be available on site, in case of light failure. Stop / go boards must not be operated at night without appropriate lighting. Operation of portable traffic signals or stop / go boards is a high risk task and must be undertaken by a person qualified under unit 0002 (signing, lighting & guarding) New Roads & Street Works Act 1991 or similar qualifications such as the National Highway Sector Scheme (modules 12D T1 and T2).
In all cases, the use of portable traffic signals and stop / go boards must be approved by the Traffic Authority. Proof of staff qualifications and appropriate £10 million public liability insurance will be needed along with detailed plans for the use of the equipment. The traffic authority may set conditions relating to the use of the equipment.