A reader of Metric Views has drawn our attention to a paragraph in the DfT Traffic Signs Manual that allows distances shown as ‘yards’ on some traffic signs to be measured in metres. We wonder if this idea on interchangeability has spread beyond the DfT.
The only official use of the Imperial yard in the UK since 2000 has been â??for traffic signs and for related distance â?¦ measurementsâ??. As civil engineering was one of the first sectors of the British economy to go metric, in the early 1970â??s in fact, the continuing use of the yard can present problems for contractors.
One of our readers has shed some light on this. He writes:
â??Looking for something totally unrelated on the DfT website I came across this paragraph in Chapter 8 Appendix A1 of the Traffic Signs Manual (http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tss/tsmanual/chapter8/):
â??7. The siting distance of the first sign is given in metres or miles. However, to comply with the Regulations the distances on supplementary plates must be shown in imperial dimensions. Tables and plans show the placing of road works signs in equivalent metric dimensions; this utilises part of the permitted 10% tolerance on the placing of signs (Part 1: Design, paragraph D4.4.7), e.g. signs showing 400 yards being placed at 400m.â??
If I’m reading this right that they’re basically saying the distance between the signs is in metres but because of regulations we have to use the word yards on the sign.â??
Metric Views has suspected for some time that BBC reporters use metres and yardsÂ to mean the same thing. If this catches on, then what future is there for the yard, except as a comfort blanket for the insular?