New government plans to show road signs in metric measurements are the “start of a slippery slope” say critics.
A department of transport report ministers say they will ‘no longer prescribe imperial-only height and width limit signs’.
Currently road signs showing height and width limits, usually around bridges and tunnels, are measured in imperial only.
But a draft legal order shows plans for metric measurements to take precedence on top of signs, with imperial underneath.
In the consultation document published this week, it says:
In order to improve road safety and compliance, Ministers have decided that the revised TSRGD will no longer prescribe imperial-only height and width limit signs. Imperial only signs can remain in place only until such time that they become life-expired, or replaced during routine maintenance, at which time the dual-unit equivalent must be used.
Consequently traditional imperial measurements, which are what motorists in this country are used, to will only be allowed to be shown if metric measurements – the preferred unit of measurement in European Union laws – is used.
“Motorists and hauliers have got used to seeing signs in feet and inches. In fast moving traffic if they glance up and read the metric metres first, there could be a problem” said Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA.
”At the very least the UK measure in feet and inches should be on top, with the metric details below,’ he added, saying the changes could lead to significant confusion for motorists.
Mrs Seymour added: “There is no evidence that British drivers are unhappy with the current imperial measurements, and if we are switching to metric merely to make life easier for foreign drivers, we have once again got our priorities totally wrong.
And Neil Herron the ‘metric martyr’ known for his campaign against being forced to use kilos and grams said “let’s hope it’s not the start of a slippery slope.”
The Sunderland fishmonger who has previously stood as an MEP candidate described the decision as “a watershed moment”.
“The last thing the British public would want is to see speed limits in kilometres per hour as on the Continent. Nor would they stand for distance signs in kilometres instead of miles” he said.
Details of the plan are buried away in a report on road sign regulations published by the Department for Transport.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said:
“Displaying dual measures of height and width restrictions make it easier for drivers and are designed to help improve safety on our roads. There are no plans to duplicate any other type of traffic sign“.