Traffic signs play a vital role in controlling and guiding traffic to keep roads safe. The omission or poor quality of traffic signs may inhibit the proper guidance, control or alert to danger to road users and thus result in less safe roads.

In this guide, our experts at Lakeside explain permanent traffic sign regulations in England, naming important standards and explaining key points.

Traffic sign regulations UK

To ensure traffic signs are used correctly and standardised across the country, the Department for Transport has set out regulations for UK traffic authorities to follow.

All regulations regarding traffic signs can be found in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 regulations, commonly initialised to TSRGD.

The Traffic Signs Manual, created by the Department of Transport, gives guidance on the creation and use of traffic signs in accordance with TSRGD and associated laws. Formed of eight chapters, the Traffic Signs Manual contains information on the standards for different types of traffic signs, design of signs, road markings, traffic control, and road work and temporary situations, amongst others.

The TSRGD contains everything traffic authorities, contractors, road users and more need to know about traffic signs and their regulation, from what font should be used on what background, to size and material direction.

Failure to comply with regulations regarding traffic signs can result in legal action taken. Signs that are not governed by the TSRGD or specially authorised by national authorities must be removed. National authority has the power to ensure the removal of unlawful or badly deployed traffic signs according to section 69 and 70 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1864.

Types of traffic signs

There are three main types of traffic signs in the UK, spanning temporary and permanent traffic signs, each with varying shapes and colour conventions.

Warning signs

Warning signs, outlined in chapter 4 of the Traffic Signs Manual, give road users warning of hazards up ahead. Generally warning signs are triangular, with the apex at the top but there are exceptions, there may also be supplementary rectangular plates to give more information. A ‘humped crossing’ sign is an example of a warning sign.

Regulatory signs

Regulatory signs give notice of requirements, prohibitions or restrictions, and therefore indicate what a road user should do. The shape of regulatory signs varies, but those related to moving traffic are generally round. Stop, give way, priority lanes and parking controls are regulatory signs. Further guidance on regulatory signs can be found in chapter 3.

Information, directional and tourist Signs

These signs, the subject of chapter 2, give road users information about routes, places and facilities. This sign type is most often rectangular, though some directional signs have one end pointed to form an arrow and are placed in advance of junctions.

Permanent traffic sign materials

BS EN 12899:1:2007 – glass bead materials

The relevant standard for traffic sign facing material is BS EN 12899:1:2007, standard for retroreflective materials on fixed, vertical road traffic signs. This standard outlines the requirements for sign assembly including supports, signs, plates and components. Compliant signs to this standard meet the limits for chromaticity and luminance, ensuring visibility in day and low light conditions. Retroreflective information can be found in clause

According to this standard, the reflective performance of glass bead facing materials can be one of two classes; RA1 or RA2. RA1 materials are used on traffic signs where reflective performance is not as important, for example signs that display parking information. RA2 materials are used where reflective performance is important to road users, such as warning, prohibitory and direction signs.

Here at Lakeside we offer a range of RA1 & RA2 CE/UKCA accredited glass bead reflective films.

BS EN 12899:1:2007 National Annex – micro prismatic materials

BS 8408: 2005 was the standard for micro prismatic materials, however this was replaced by a National Annex added to BS EN 12899:1:2007. Where glass bead technology lacks the required performance in certain circumstances, micro prismatic materials offer a higher level of performance. An example application where micro prismatic materials may be used in place of glass bead products is where there is a high level of background illumination, demanding higher luminosity and reflectivity from traffic signs to be visible.

The regulation recommends the use of class R3C materials for optimum visual performance when the situation demands higher performance retroreflective products, especially overhead signs where reflection may be impeded. Within the UK there are few suppliers of R3C products, however Lakeside supply a wealth of R3C products up to the latest micro prismatic standards.

We are one of a handful of R3 suppliers within the UK, supplying high standard materials with full CE/UKCA accreditation and 12+ year warranties. Through partnership with the leading retroreflective supplier, Avery Dennison, we offer R3 (R3B and R3C) class materials from our base in the South West of the UK. Known for its “Smart at Every Angle” benefit, our R3C products are perfectly suited to overhead signs, ensuring uniform reflectivity at all sign face orientations.

Check out Lakeside’s R3 micro prismatic products!

Compliant permanent traffic signs with Lakeside

For expert advice and compliant products, get in touch with Lakeside. We provide a range of approved and top of the range products for permanent and temporary traffic signs, as well as chapter 8 vehicle chevrons, ECE 104 contour tape, emergency vehicle safety reflectives, and much more.

Whether you require glass bead products, premium micro prismatic products, or top of the range TrafficJet digital traffic sign printing, we are your go-to reflective partner.

If you’re looking for unrivalled durability for your permanent traffic signage, check out the below video to find out more about our winning combination of 15 year R3C micro prismatic sheeting, durable TrafficJet inks and OL-1200 dew-resistant overlay film.

To begin your relationship with Lakeside for compliant, quality vehicle and sign reflectives, contact us!