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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:40 pm 
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Road signs were traditionally illuminated due to not being reflective, but also as a means of improving contrast of signs at night. Over the years fewer road signs have required illumination. For example, I can think of direction signs approaching roundabouts on local authority roads which were once lit but haven't been lit for about 15 years or so now. We will have all seen illuminated bollards replaced with reflective bollards too.

Rationalisation of signlighting is taking a big leap soon. See this news item from the Institute of Highway Engineers:

Transport Minister announces major changes to traffic signs regulations at IHE conference

September 21, 2013

Transport Minister Norman Baker MP announced major changes to traffic sign illumination at the Institute Of Highway Engineer’s (IHE) Traffic Signs conference held yesterday in Birmingham.

In his keynote speech, the Transport Minister stated that new Traffic Sign Regulations in 2015 would significantly relax the current requirements to electrically illuminate many types of signs and grant new powers to highways authorities to decide if illumination was required.

The Minister also launched a new Traffic Advisory Leaflet on traffic bollards and low level traffic signs (TAL 3/13) at the IHE event.

The Minister said whilst a small number of signs (such as for motorways and low bridges) would continue to require lighting, it would be for each highway authority to decide whether or not to illuminate most other signs.

This relaxation was strongly supported by IHE in its response to Department for Transport’s peer review of the proposal earlier this year.  Chairman of IHE’s Traffic Signs Committee, Simon Morgan said Highways Authorities would also welcome the flexibility to decide when sign illumination was required:

ʺThe relaxation of temporary roadworks signs will help highway authorities in situations where ensuring road worker safety or the risk of theft made the use of sign lighting difficult.ʺ

ʺSigns on self-righting bollards have been a particular difficulty, as this increasingly common device does not lend itself to electrical illumination, and yet can reflect back to the driver an adequate amount of light from dipped headlamps.ʺ

So, it would seem that from next year we might start seeing a lot of illuminated signs becoming non-illuminated. No doubt many will just become unlit when the posts require replacing, but some local authorities may be more proactive when considering the maintenance and energy savings and purposely switch off or remove sign illumination. All of this further goes to highlight the perils of PFI schemes though, of which the newer PFIs have seen bulk replacement of old signlights and signposts with new LED equipment at great expense. All that mass renewal, and it turns out the need for lighting will be surplus to requirements.

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