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Vehicle Activate Signs (VAS)

Background

Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) have been developed to address the problem of inappropriate speed. They are not a replacement for conventional signing but are designed to be activated by vehicles approaching at a speed above a pre-set level and are intended to provide information to the driver about the speed limit or a hazard ahead. When not activated, the sign remains blank.

VAS are permanent post-mounted signs that display either the speed limit or warn of a hazard ahead. They must comply with The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD) and be approved for use on the public highway. The TSRGD prescribes the signs and messages that can be displayed and alternatives are not permitted unless specifically authorised by the Secretary of State. Normally we will not pursue a VAS that is not prescribed.

Our policy

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) Policy was agreed in March 2006, and reviewed in February 2012. This enables VAS to be provided in any one of three ways:

  1. As part of a County Council funded casualty reduction scheme, where a VAS is identified as the most appropriate remedial measure.
  2. As part of a scheme where the community fund the supply, installation and maintenance of the VAS. This will be suitable where there is a proven problem with excessive or inappropriate speed and other remedial measures have been explored and ruled out or have not proved successful.
  3. As for 2 above, but where a third party (usually the Parish or Town Council) arrange and fund the supply, installation and maintenance of the sign, subject to County Council approval.

In all cases TfB, as highway authority, will assess the suitability of the VAS, which will include the location and type of VAS to be used.  TfB will also determine the power source and, if applicable, the electrical supply and connection. Only those suppliers and contractors who are approved to supply equipment or work on the highway in Buckinghamshire may be used.

In case 2 above, TfB would be responsible for installing the VAS and would receive a ‘commuted sum’ for the ongoing maintenance of the sign.  TfB would be responsible for all future maintenance of the sign.  TfB provide budget estimates for VAS signs on an individual site by site basis.

In case 3 above, where the third party (parish/town council) arrange and fund the installation of the VAS, TfB would act as Principle Designer and also supervise the works.  This ensures the Parish/Town Council fulfil their responsibilities under the Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2015.  TfB’s responsibilities would include ensuring the risk of underground services is managed and also ensure the work on the public highway is undertaken in a safe manner.  The parish/town council would employ both TfB and the VAS installation contractor directly.  The cost for TfB’s involvement would be assessed on a site by site basis.

Effectiveness

Monitoring of the effectiveness in speed reduction of VAS units has not been undertaken. For future schemes if monitoring is required, allowance would be made for before and after speed surveys.

Conditions suitable for a VAS

When considering whether a site is suitable for a VAS, TfB will look at all sites and consider a number of factors including:

  • The existing collision history
  • The existing speed of traffic
  • The presence and condition of existing signing and lining
  • Whether other measures may be recommended or be more suitable
  • Whether a suitable location exists for the VAS

Additionally, we will consider other factors at some sites such as whether a VAS is suitable for the requested site (e.g. if in a conservation area or within the Chilterns AONB) and whether there is local support.

Requests and processes

A request for a VAS should be made via the parish or town council (or local County Councillor in areas where no parish or town council exists) to ensure local support for the request. Contact Details for parish council can be found here.

All requests should be made by completing the application form together with the application fee of £310 +VAT.

If necessary, there will also be an additional cost to obtain speed data for the assessment. 

Consultation

BCC/TfB, as highway authority, has the power to erect signs on the highway and it is not usual to notify individual frontagers when these are provided. However, a VAS is generally larger than conventional signing and adjacent properties may be affected by its presence. Where a VAS is agreed and will be provided in front of or adjacent to residential properties TfB, or the local council (if third party funded), should notify and confirm support from affected frontagers and the local County Councillor prior to any works commencing on site.

Typical costs & timescales

Whilst a VAS may be considered a low cost option when compared to other speed or collision reducing features, they are expensive when compared to conventional signing. As well as the one-off supply and installation costs there are ongoing costs for power, calibration and maintenance. Each VAS location will be different and a quotation will need to be prepared on a site-by-site basis.

VAS Contractors

There are a number of suppliers and contractors who can supply and / or install type approved VAS on the highway in Buckinghamshire. A list of preferred suppliers and / or installers will be provided on request. Where a third party provides, funds and maintains a VAS on the public highway, only those suppliers and contractors listed in this document may be used.

Maintenance

Most VAS suppliers will provide a guarantee against equipment or component failure for 1 year. This will not cover routine maintenance (such as cleaning, foliage clearance etc.), vehicle impact or vandalism. Where BCC/TfB is responsible for maintenance, this will be undertaken as required in accordance with its usual maintenance procedures and standards. Where a third party is responsible for maintenance, this can often be negotiated direct with the VAS supplier or other contractors as required.

Monitoring

Where BCC/TfB provides a VAS to address a specific collision or speed problem, monitoring will be undertaken to assess its impact on collisions and speeds. This is usual practice for all such schemes. Where a third party funds a VAS, any monitoring required by them will also need to be funded by the third party.

Department for Transport Traffic Advisory Leaflet.

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