Road signs are a key distraction to motorists whilst out on the road. Previous research from the RAC Foundation has found that ‘five plus or minus two’ is the amount of points or messages that we are able to take in at any one time. According to American Research* driver distraction is a factor in 10-30% of all accidents and a third of these accidents are caused by distractions outside the car. This has lead the RAC Foundation in conjunction with the Council for Protection of Rural England to campaign for local authorities to undertake clutter audits within their local areas.
The reason for writing an entry on this issue, is that other research has come to light highlighting the same issue. A 2004 Canadian study found that 90% of drivers glanced at one or more signs for at least 0.75 seconds and 20% glanced at a sign for longer than two seconds, a sufficient length of time to compromise road safety. A survey conducted by AAMI in Australia has also found that half of respondents (from the Victoria area) had been distracted by roadside billboards.
Distraction whilst driving is an International issue and concern. The evidence linking signage distraction to collisions is plentiful, and it is an issue that the RAC Foundation will continue to raise.
* USA Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems.