Can road signs cause more harm than good?

While many British motorists often find the majority of road signs beneficent, the results of a report published by a motor car insurance provider recently indicated that some may feel that the number of road sides on roadways across the UK may be a distraction to motorists, leading to an increase in accident volume.

Cheap car insurance provider RAC found that, while road signs do provide motorists with crucial information about the road ahead, such as changes to the speed limit, hidden junctions ahead, or roundabouts coming up, when signs of contradictory natures are grouped too close together, confusion or information overload in motorists can lead to accidents that can result in increased car insurance rates for drivers.  However, the report did indicate that, when signs are timely, reliable, relevant, and clear and concise, their presence can result in improvements to road safety and bring about a reduction in the number of motorists that become lost on a daily basis.

Information overload can be a very serious problem when it strikes people behind the wheel.  Studies have demonstrated that the confusion and loss of concentration that information overload causes in motorists actually has a greater effect than certain kinds of illegal drugs.

Despite this fact, one industry spokesperson commented, the number of road signs across the UK that have been damaged, obscured with foliage or grime, or have been knocked down or have disappeared numbers in the thousands. Additionally, official figures indicate that over 50 per cent of drivers in the UK have admitted to having an imperfect understanding of the even the most basic Highway Code signs.

Academics, car insurance companies, and safety groups alike have been calling upon highway authorities to regularly review the locations they choose for road signs in response to the information, experts say.

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