TRANSPORT Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has stated that all unnecessary signs cluttering up the sides of roads are to be scrapped.

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Thank goodness. While he’s about it, he may even decide to get rid of the vast majority of traffic lights, which have multiplied to preposterous proportions in recent years. We now have more than 25,000 sets – around a third more than a decade ago.

Apart from being an unmitigated eyesore, this “street furniture” (how cute a name for something so unsightly) is for the most part counter-productive. There are so many signs that it is almost impossible to distinguish the important ones from the trivial. Accordingly, all are treated with complacency by most motorists.

If a driver tried to read every one (on some roads several signs occur in quick succession) it would be so distracting there’d be a good chance he or she would end up in a ditch. As for lights: while, of course, we need them at major junctions, in other places they have sprung up where they are not necessary. They stop and start traffic needlessly, making journey times slower and exacerbating pollution.

There are so many red lights that we are getting more “amber gamblers”: drivers who speed up as they approach a changing light. It wouldn’t happen if motorists didn’t have to negotiate so many pointless sets of lights.

In Drachten, in Holland, they got rid of their traffic lights and road deaths fell by 50%. Lights are ubiquitous in Britain, even appearing, in recent years, on roundabouts! While I can understand this on main roads such as the M25/A1 interchange, quite why they are deemed necessary, for example, in Kesgrave I haven’t the foggiest.

When we have more than 50 road signs along a one-mile stretch (the B1029 at Brightlingsea) and traffic lights accompany roundabouts on minor roads, we need to ask “Is this really necessary?” It’s obvious what answer I would give.

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