Getting rid of road signs 'would boost safety'
Published 21/09/2010 | 05:00
AN international expert on road design has called for traffic lights and road signs to be removed from roads in order to make them safer.
Getting rid of some of the "senseless" signs on roads would result in drivers acting more responsibly and going at speeds appropriate to the area in which they were driving, a conference heard yesterday.
Ben Hamilton-Bailie, an urban design expert from the UK, told an audience in Dublin that overloading motorists with traffic lights and signs could result in more road crashes.
Some councils in the UK removed centre-line markings from roads, resulting in reductions in speed.
"Presume the driver is an idiot, and he will act like an idiot," he said. "Remove a lot of the senseless signs and he will know how to act. Take away speed signs and you will witness how uncomfortable drivers are exceeding the speed that establishes itself as the norm."
He made his comments at the annual Automotive Forum organised by the Irish Motoring Writers Association.
If signs and traffic lights are taken away, he said, drivers started to engage with their surroundings more naturally and "participate in the social protocols of the city".
He compared it to driving in areas like campsites, supermarket car parks and country shows, where both cars and people share the same space.
Mr Hamilton-Bailie said there had been a fundamental shift in thinking in the UK toward the idea of "shared space" between traffic and people, and this had not yet been adopted here.
Road-related injuries dropped when people were allowed to drive at speeds appropriate to the environment they were in, he said, adding that, in Makkinga, Holland, the removal of traffic lights and road signs and markings had led to improved traffic flow and safety.
Another speaker, James Remfrey from the Continental Automotive Group, said that improvements in car technology could render traffic lights redundant in the near future.