The Daily Telegraph

COM­PUL­SORY ROAD SIG­NALS.

A UNI­FORM CODE.

- Department for Transport · London · Greater London · Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport · London General Omnibus Company

The code of road sig­nals which is to be im­me­di­ately in­tro­duced will be a very im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment in the cam­paign to re­duce traf­fic dan­ger in the streets of cities and towns and on the high­ways of the coun­try. The con­sid­er­a­tions which give im­por­tance to the pro­posal are that the code is to be uni­form, and is to be com­pul­sory. As yet the code has not been is­sued as an Or­der from the Min­istry of Trans­port, but on in­quiry a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of The Daily Tele­graph was in­formed yes­ter­day that the Depart­men­tal Com­mit­tee on the Reg­u­la­tion of Road Ve­hi­cles have de­cided to rec­om­mend the com­pul­sory use by driv­ers of all sorts of ve­hi­cles of two sig­nals given by the arm or a dummy arm – the first the rais­ing of the arm to in­di­cate to fol­low­ing traf­fic that the ve­hi­cle is about to stop, the sec­ond the ex­ten­sion of the arm hor­i­zon­tally to in­di­cate that it is about to turn to the right. So far these two sig­nals are all that have been rec­om­mended to the Min­istry.

A sig­nal to give warn­ing that the ve­hi­cle is about to turn to the left is con­sid­ered su­per­flu­ous in view of the ex­ist­ing rule of the road; and – for the very rea­son for which sig­nalling is to be im­posed – an un­nec­es­sary elab­o­ra­tion of the code is be­ing avoided. The com­pul­sory en­force­ment of the code is a big step. It will mean that any ve­hi­cle may be stopped by the po­lice if it fails to give the warn­ing sig­nal, and the driver will be li­able to pros­e­cu­tion.

It is not to be as­sumed that sig­nalling by driv­ers for the guid­ance of traf­fic be­hind is not now largely – in­deed, gen­er­ally – prac­tised. On coun­try roads the driv­ers of mo­tor-cars seem to limit them­selves to one move­ment, the ex­ten­sion of the right arm, which is in­vari­ably in­ter­preted as an in­ti­ma­tion that the car is about to stop, to turn, or to slow down; and the driver of a fol­low­ing car thus re­ceives a vague but valu­able hint that he ought to ex­er­cise cau­tion and have his ve­hi­cle un­der im­me­di­ate con­trol. In the me­trop­o­lis the London Gen­eral Om­nibus Com­pany have a full code of sig­nals which are used by their driv­ers, in­clud­ing sev­eral which are mere in­ter­changes of cour­te­sies be­tween em­ploy­ees.

By an of­fi­cial of the London “Safety First” Coun­cil an ac­count was given of the de­vel­op­ment of road-sig­nalling. In 1917 the coun­cil is­sued posters rec­om­mend­ing a va­ri­ety of sig­nals, and these were posted at the prin­ci­pal garages and sta­bles through­out Greater London. “At a later date,” he said, “we ap­pre­ci­ated that the value of these sig­nals would be greatly en­hanced if they were set out pic­to­ri­ally. At that time the po­lice au­thor­i­ties and the Min­istry of Trans­port were propos­ing the is­sue of some hand sig­nals. Our coun­cil got into com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Min­istry of Trans­port, whose Com­mit­tee on the Reg­u­la­tion of Road Ve­hi­cles have now adopted the chief sig­nals. As a re­sult, the coun­cil have gone ahead, and are about to is­sue a pic­to­rial poster, of which copies will be ex­hib­ited in all garages and sta­bles, and on the pub­lic hoard­ings. It is the view of the coun­cil that the re­sult of the co­op­er­a­tion of the driv­ers of both mo­tor and horse-drawn ve­hi­cles in hav­ing as­sim­i­lated the prac­tice of these sig­nals has very ma­te­ri­ally con­trib­uted to the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of ac­ci­dents which took place in 1918 as com­pared with 1914, the last year be­fore the war. That re­duc­tion was nearly 50 per cent.”

A proof of the poster in­di­cates that the code goes fur­ther than the Depart­men­tal Com­mit­tee have so far rec­om­mended. The hand sig­nals are as fol­lows:

STOP. – Ex­tend the right arm, with fore­arm and hand held up­right. SLOW DOWN. – Ex­tend the right arm, mov­ing the hand up and down with the palm down­wards. TURN­ING TO RIGHT. – Ex­tend the right arm. TURN­ING TO LEFT. – Ex­tend the right arm and wave to­wards the left across the body. COME ON. – Ex­tend the right arm with the right hand wav­ing for­ward, to sig­nal an over­tak­ing ve­hi­cle to come on.

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