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Road Signage in Scotland


Responsibility for the road network in Scotland is split between the Scottish Government and local roads authorities. The Roads Scotland Act 1984 makes Scottish Ministers responsible for all trunk roads including motorways and local roads authorities for local roads.

While responsibility for placing, erecting and maintaining traffic signs is a matter for the relevant authority, it is important that signs are consistent both in appearance and in the way they are used.

To ensure that Scotland has a uniform traffic signing system, signs must conform to the designs prescribed in the Traffic Signs Regulations And General Directions 2016 (Scottish Ministers may authorise specially designed signs – see Non-Prescribed Signs below).

The Traffic Signs Manual 2006, provides detailed guidance for those responsible for designing and installing traffic signs.

Signs play an important role in directing, informing and controlling road users’  behavior, keeping roads as safe as possible for all users.

Non-Prescribed Traffic Signs

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD) is a regulatory document which details every traffic sign and road marking prescribed for use in Scotland. TSRGD also stipulates the conditions under which each sign may be used.

Where there is no suitable prescribed sign, an application can be made to the Scottish Government for authorisation to use a specially designed non-prescribed sign which is not contained in the TSRGD.

More information on the approval application process for Non-Prescribed Signs can be found in the following document:

Non-Prescribed Traffic Signs: Authorisation Procedure

Bilingual Signs

Bilingual signs were first introduced on some west highland trunk roads in 2002. They were approved by the Scottish Government in recognition of the importance of the Gaelic language as part of Scotland's cultural heritage and in support of present day Gaelic-speaking communities. 

The Scottish Government’s policy focuses on trunk roads that pass through Gaelic-speaking communities and which lead to west coast ferry ports.

Good progress has already been made in implementing this policy. There are already bilingual signs in place on the A87, A887, A830, A835, A828, A85, A82 and A83.  The policy has been extended to include the A9 trunk road. This will be dualled by 2025 and is consistent with the Scottish Government’s Gaelic Language Plan 2010.

In 2012, Transport Scotland commissioned a study (Analyses of the effects of bilingual signs on road safety in Scotland) which looked at whether bilingual signs have had any effect on road safety. The study concluded that bilingual signs do not result in a significant increase in crash risk and accident involvement.  Analysis of accident data in Scotland concurred with this conclusion.

Local roads authorities are responsible for developing signposting policies, including bilingual sign policy for non-trunk roads in their area.

More information:

Tourist Signs

Scotland, with its wide and unique range of attractions, is very popular with visitors and locals alike, many of whom travel by car. Therefore, providing clear direction signs to attractions is a very important aspect of making a visit to Scotland as pleasurable and relaxing as possible.

The Trunk Road and Motorway Tourist Signposting Policy document contains the Scottish Government's policy on the provision of tourist destination signs on the all-purpose and motorway trunk road network in Scotland.

The Trunk Road and Motorway Tourist Signposting Guidance document provides guidance to Scottish tourism businesses to establish if their business is eligible for tourist destination signs and to understand the process of applying to have signs erected on the Trunk Road and Motorway Network.

Local authorities are responsible for developing tourist signposting policies for non-trunk roads.

Variable Messaging Signs

Variable message signs (VMS) are electronic traffic signs used to manage the trunk road network by providing advanced warning of emergencies and incidents to aid drivers in their journey planning.

VMS can also be used to promote and support road safety, network operation and other related campaigns.

More information on Variable message signs (VMS) can be found in the Technology section of this website.

Further Information

Publication Date: 
Fri 31/Aug/2012
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