Traffic sign messages ‘could cause accident’ - claims Stevenage council leader

The 'don't drink and drive' message has been displayed since Monday

The 'don't drink and drive' message has been displayed since Monday - Credit: Archant

TRAFFIC information signs which cost more than £200,000 to install are now displaying a series of warning messages to drivers, which a council leader believes could cause an accident.

A dozen signs meant to provide real-time traffic updates around the Stevenage area went live two months ago and have so far been used to warn drivers of traffic congestion for St George’s Day and Stevenage Day.

Since Monday the variable message signs installed by maintenance contractor Ringway on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council, have been displaying a ‘don’t drink and drive’ message, with further messages from national campaigns also due to appear in the coming days and weeks.

They include ‘check your mirrors for bikes, think once, think twice, think bike’, ‘don’t text and drive’ and ‘keep your distance’.

Stevenage county councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We all get these messages and disseminate them in a number of different ways, but I think on the signs the messages are a distraction to drivers and could cause an accident.

“We’ve been told they are going to be used to report major incidents, so then there’s a bit of an argument for it – although we have managed fine without that for the last 60 years – but to just have these messages is a massive waste of money.”

Cllr Robin Parker, a Stevenage county councillor and leader of Stevenage Liberal Democrats, said: “I still think they are a waste of money. All I have seen so far is ‘don’t drive and drive’. That’s an important message but we all know that already and I don’t think we need to be told via these signs 24 hours a day.”

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Terry Douris, Cabinet member for highways and transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We want to make the most of this technology. Although its primary role is to get messages to drivers at critical points on their journey and minimise congestion, it is also a very effective way of encouraging drivers to think safety and be safe.

“Variable message signs are a great example of joint working with police and the district councils to reduce disruption to motorists’ journeys.”