An initiative to remove pointless road signs has been announced by the Department for Transport (DfT).

A taskforce overseen by Sir Alan Duncan MP will tackle the overuse of traffic signs while a consultation proposes a range of new measures including:

• ensuring road signs that are used far longer than needed have a ‘remove by’ date;

• making sure traffic signs are visible on unlit roads; and

• stopping temporary message signs from being cluttered with adverts and distracting logos.

Transport secretary Patrick Mcloughlin said: “Useless traffic signs blight our landscape, waste taxpayers’ cash and can be a dangerous distraction to drivers.

“We are restoring common sense to Britain’s roads while ensuring drivers have the information they need to get about safely. We have already made much progress but Sir Alan Duncan’s new taskforce is an important step towards striking the right balance.”

Research carried out by the Department in 2013 to inform the Traffic Signs Policy Review showed that the number of traffic signs has doubled in the last 20 years. Duncan’s taskforce will make practical suggestions for removing clutter and ask whether some signs can be removed altogether. It will also look at what can be done to change the culture within local authorities to reduce signing and consider the factors that lead to sign clutter.

Duncan said: “I have been campaigning on this issue for 20 years. I am delighted to lead this initiative. The UK has erected thousands of road signs which are completely unnecessary, such as traffic light warning signs when you can see the lights themselves. We are going to look at how we might get rid of whole categories of unnecessary signs and improve the look of our roads and streets.”

To enable local authorities to make a difference without having to wait for new regulation, DfT has already relaxed requirements for design and placing of some signs, and new advice has been published to help local authorities declutter roads.

For the last three years DfT has also sponsored the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation Reducing Sign Clutter award, to highlight and reward good practice by local authorities.

The taskforce will begin work soon and present its recommendations to government by December. The consultation will close on 6 October.