Network safety policy

Last updated: 9 February 2022

Managing roadside distractions

Managing roadside distractions is an important aspect of network safety and includes addressing the safety issues associated with the placing of memorial shrines on the highway by bereaved relatives and friends in the absence of legal precedent or national guidance, and the use of signs or posters, not covered under the Traffic Signs Manual that could cause a distraction or obstruction to the highway user.

The Highways Act has no express provision to licence or permit memorials on the highway and the purpose of this section is to provide clarity by clearly stating what will be permissible on the highway under the control of Buckinghamshire Council (BC).

Roadside memorials

Temporary memorials such as the placing of floral tributes or small soft toys at the roadside may be acceptable provided there is no significant risk of driver distraction or undue risk to the individual visiting the location. Any items should be placed clear of any locations where highway maintenance is likely to be undertaken, e.g. grass cutting, as all locations will continue to be subject to routine and cyclic maintenance activities. Candles, lanterns or lights are not permitted as they can cause distraction to drivers during the hours of darkness and may present a fire risk.

Temporary memorials should also be placed away from locations that are hazardous to access, such as carriageway central reservations and busy roundabout central islands.

Permanent memorials of any kind are not permitted on any part of the public highway, which may include verges, driveways and footways. Any memorials which appear to be permanent structures will be removed on safety grounds. This includes the placing of small memorial signs saying ‘remember me’ to mark road collision fatalities, as promoted by Road Peace. The signs have no official sanction with the Department for Transport (DfT) and hence there is no current legislation or guidance for the council to approve the placing of these on street furniture.

In these situations, the council will in conjunction with TVP Family Liaison Officer contact the bereaved to advise them to consider a memorial such as appropriate planting of a shrub or tree at an appropriate location off the highway, such as a local park.

Signs and posters

With regard to signs and posters on the highway, BC has a duty to provide safer roads and reduce casualties and has powers under section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 to remove signs and A-boards that are causing a distraction or obstruction.

Posters may be used at specific locations or as part of a localised safety or sustainable transport campaign. They may contain words and images and may be moved around sites to provide a county wide topical road safety, or sustainable travel message.

Posters (including A Boards) used for commercial purposes are not permitted on the Highway and will be removed. Posters proposed for community purposes will be considered in accordance with BC’s guidelines on use of posters on the highway.

Unauthorised or commercial signs/posters/A-boards often become an eyesore and can reduce the effectiveness of necessary road signing. A-boards can also cause obstruction be detrimental to highway safety and so are not permitted.

Posters are classed as advertisements, which are governed by the local planning authorities (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. Local authorities have the power to erect posters on the public highway under Schedule 2 and 3 of these regulations.