Hundreds of drivers could be caught out by new hedgehog road sign in safety risk

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The new sign has yet to be installed across any road in the UK despite being given the green light by the Department for Transport (DfT) last year. The signs have so far proved unpopular with just four councils applying to install the new signs on their roads.

However, all four councils who applied were denied permission because they did not provide evidence they had a high concentration of animals on the roads.

Just Newcastle City Council, Middlesbrough Council, Surrey County Council and East Riding of York Council applied for the scheme but were all rejected.

An AA spokesperson said: “Rejection of the applications based on failing to provide adequate evidence conjures up all sorts of weird scenarios.

“Council officers counting the bodies or sending off the evidence in jiffy bags.”

He added: “Common sense suggests that, if cash-strapped councils are prepared to fork out the money for the signs and the manpower to erect them, there is probably the local need for them.”

There is hope the signs could still be installed in areas which need them after the Government has previously warned of the risks of small animals on the road.

In 2017 629 people were injured in accidents involving an animal on the road.

A further four drivers were killed in these accidents in a major warning of the risks involved.

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The new sign was first announced in June 2019 to help road users identify hazardous areas and warn them to take extra precautions.

Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said local authorities and animal welfare groups should identify accident hotspots and decide where the signs were installed.

Speaking at the time, he said the new sign would “help reduce the number of people killed” as well as protect animal populations across areas most at risk.

He said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at how we can make them safer. Motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are particularly at risk.

“The new small mammal warning sign should help to reduce the number of people killed and injured, as well as helping our precious small wild mammal population to flourish.”

Wildlife numbers have been in decline in many areas with hedgehog populations just half of the levels seen in 2000.

Animal welfare groups have previously welcomed the new sign as roadkill has been a long term concern.

Fay Bass, Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society said the signs were welcomed by the public and hoped they would soon be installed.

She said: “We are disappointed that more authorities aren’t applying for the small mammal signs that feature a hedgehog and that the DfT are rejecting those that do.

“We know from interaction with the public that these signs would be very welcome in many areas where hedgehog road casualty counts are high.

“In the meantime, we produce a sign that can be purchased for display on private property.

“But we very much hope that the official signs will soon begin to be erected in the spirit they were intended.

“They are important to warn people that small animals might be on the road in that area, not only for the sake of the animal, but to help reduce risk for drivers too.”

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