I noticed this problem when we first visited England in spring of 2010. I was amazed to see the hidden road signs, thinking how lucky that English drivers were generally rather gracious and civil. Can’t imagine if this was in Taiwan, Singapore or HK, where drivers behave quite differently…

^..^ still amazed…

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andy.russell@archant.co.uk

With plans to cut the number of road signs, some seem to be merging into the background.

With plans to cut the number of road signs, some seem to be merging into the background.

The government recently announced plans to ‘declutter’ road signs and make street safer for cyclists and motorists but I didn’t realise it meant hiding them from view!

I spend a lot of time on the region’s roads and it seems to me that more road signs are increasingly grimy or gradually disappearing from view into overhanging foliage and rampant undergrowth.

The plans, to go to consultation, are designed to make signs clearer and to reduce their number so they are easier to understand.

So maybe these ‘disappearing’ signs are part of a cunning plan to give the impression that action is already being taken to rid us of some ‘unnecessary’ road signs.

That’s the cynical journalist in me.

I suspect it is more about the ideal wet and warm growing conditions — that has turned my garden into a lush green oasis rather than the usual flagging foliage — and highways authorities’ tight budgets forcing cutbacks in general maintenance.

Unfortunately the signs that are falling victim to vegetation include some important ones such as speed limits and direction boards — the ones that actually help promote road safety and make it easier to get from A to B. Not everyone uses a sat-nav and, even if you do, it’s reassuring to know you are on the right road.

The problem is that signs are often obscured by vegetation further along the road so you don’t get an early view of them and some drivers slow suddenly when the sign becomes visible. Failing to keep your vehicle’s windows clear is a traffic offence but I wonder if there is any such regulation for traffic signs?

I accept that keeping signs clean and clear is a huge job but there must be some way of improving the situation.

If you have a tree or hedge at your home that is getting out of hand, and obscuring a road sign, give it a trim. And perhaps some offenders sentenced by courts to community service — how about those convicted of serious motoring offences — could do the rest of the road-users a favour with some soapy water and a cleaning brush. Or would that contravene health and safety?

Unfortunately hidden and dirty signs can also be a road hazard as motorists slow to see what they were put up for to tell us in the first place. And if we don’t really need to know any more then take them down.

Hidden and dirty road signs can be a road hazard.

Hidden and dirty road signs can be a road hazard.

~ East Anglian NORTH ESSEX Times, June 9, 2014