The Daily Telegraph
COMPULSORY ROAD SIGNALS.
A UNIFORM CODE.
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.