Keeping standards high when it comes to road safety

The British Standard on temporary road traffic signs has just been revised, and a significant omission rectified in the process. This blog post discusses why the standard matters and what differences the latest changes will make. 

UK road traffic accident statistics make sobering reading: currently over 160,000 people per year are injured on British roads costing the economy over £15 billion. It’s therefore essential that safety-related products are correctly manufactured and specified to a current standard. One such product is temporary road traffic signs, the British Standard for which has just been revised.

Requirements and tests

BS 8442:2022 Miscellaneous road traffic signs and devices – Requirements and test methods specifies requirements and tests for rigid and flexible portable signs, barriers, self-supporting portable signs, “Stop/Go” and “Stop/Works” signs, school crossing patrol signs, flat traffic delineators, flap signs, pedestrian crossing and refuge beacons, internally illuminated posts, twin amber flashing light units, non-retroreflecting road studs and retroreflective self-righting bollards.

The tests given are suitable for both initial type testing and production testing. Non-retroreflecting road studs incorporating an active light source are not covered by this standard.

Rectifying an omission

This revision to BS 8442 rectifies a significant omission in the 2015 version of this standard. It adds colour requirements for yellow prismatic retroreflective sheeting. This omission limited the choice of retroreflective materials from which compliant temporary retroreflective road signs could be constructed.

Retroreflectivity enables safety-critical road signs that identify changes and dangers at road works to be visible to drivers at night. This type of reflection is achieved via controlling the direction of light returning to drivers.

This standard now sets out performance requirements for each of the retroreflective coloured areas used on these signs using colorimetric requirements and retroreflectivity requirements.

Additional improvements

The revision business case was discussed in a series of road equipment committee meetings before being agreed with the panel convenor, and all committee members and panellists. It’s important to note that in the development of the business case, 18 distinct organizations endorsed the revision prior to the case being accepted. Also of note is that the standard has published three months early.

As the same time as the key revision on retroreflective materials was being drafted, the committee noted that other standards and legislation which BS 8442 refers to had been updated so in some cases classes have been changed.

Further changes to the standard include that references to lower performance for digital printing have been removed now the technology is fully up to the standard of other methods, and Belisha Beacon Halo and other conspicuity aids are specified to avoid confusion for road users. Optical performance of school crossings and beacons has been updated, as have the references to the IP ratings of bollards.

The revised standard enables the manufacture of compliant road traffic signs that are efficiently produced and easily understood by road users and thereby contribute to greater road safety – which can only be a good thing for future UK road accident statistics.