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Road signs

The Highway Authority provides signs in order to give information to road users.

The design and conditions of use for traffic signs to be lawfully placed on or near roads in England are set out by the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016. The Traffic Signs Manual gives guidance on the use of traffic signs and road markings.

Signs fall into certain groups:

  • regulatory signs - signs with red circles
  • warning signs - mostly triangular
  • direction signs - mostly rectangular - stack and map types
  • information signs - mostly rectangular
  • road works signs

All signs on the highway must be authorised by the Highway Authority. Special signs are allowed with prior approval of the Department for Transport, or if they are experimental or under trial.

The Highway Authority provides direction signs to certain places. These are:

  • cities, towns and villages
  • major airports
  • hospitals
  • stations
  • cemeteries
  • toilets
  • car parks
  • leisure centres

Fingerpost signing

Fingerpost signs are traditional signposts used mainly for giving direction to pedestrians. As the posts and wording are small to drivers, they are only used for vehicles when speeds and volume are low.

On major, busy and fast roads where directions need to be large and clear, fingerpost signs are not used as the main direction signing.

Tourism signing

Tourism signs show the most appropriate route for people wanting to visit tourist destinations and also show facilities that a tourist would not expect to find in that location.

The Highway Authority's approach is to restrict the use of direction signs to public buildings and attractions, except where large numbers of visitors from outside the area are expected on a regular basis.

If you'd like a white on brown tourism sign to your visitor attraction, you need to apply to us using the form attached to this page. However, before you send us your application form and application fee it's advisable to contact us first to see whether your facility could qualify for tourist signs.

Highways asset review and reduction programme

We're currently undertaking a highways asset review and reduction programme to review the need for existing signs and, where they are to be kept, whether they can be moved or changed to reduce their visual impact.

This project will be used to develop best practice guides to help reduce transport-related clutter around the county.