24 Aug 2012

New driving signs revealed

In a controversial move the latest edition* of the Highway Code contains several new signs that can be displayed on slow moving vehicles to warn other road users of their presence.

In addition to the existing signs that may already be appended to slower vehicles, such as 'this vehicle is limited to 56mph' and 'Veiculo Longo', a number of new signs have been incorporated into standard practice.  Most of these new signs have been in informal use for some time but it is only now that they have been recognised in law.

The new signs are:

A Panama hat placed on the rear parcel shelf - this sign has been in practice for some time.  Most prevalent in S-type Jaguars and Mercedes E-Class saloons a Panama hat placed in full view of the driver behind means 'Warning - this vehicle is and will continue to be driven slowly'.  In general the maximum speed of the vehicle with a 'Panama hat' sign will be 25mph.  On a motorway the speed may increase to 55mph but only once the middle lane of the motorway has been reached whereupon the vehicle will remain in the middle lane until the driver has reached his destination.  It was found that the 'Panama hat' sign is such a reliable indicator of a slow moving vehicle that it should be incorporated into the new code.  Also note that only men aged from 48 to 65 may use this sign and only if they have grey or no hair.

Box of tissues on the parcel shelf - similar to the Panama hat sign but reserved for drivers of Nissan Micras and, occasionally, Bentley Continental GTs.  Drivers who choose to display the 'box of tissues' sign will have a top speed of 28mph on every highway except for motorways where the speed is increased to 50mph for Micras and 65mph for Bentley Continentals.  The Micra 'box of tissues' displayer is only allowed to use the slow lane of motorways whereas the Continental GT 'box of tissues' displayer will be required by law to only use the fast lane.  It is compulsory for any driver with a box of tissues on the parcel shelf to also utilise their fog-lights at all times.

Two cushions on the parcel shelf - similar, but subtly different, to the 'box of tissues' and 'Panama hat' signs.  The driver who displays the 'two cushions on the parcel shelf' sign says to other road users that they have a maximum speed of 25mph.  However when another road user attempts to overtake the 'two cushion' displayer the speed will be increased to match that of the car attempting to overtake.  As long as the 'two cushions' sign is displayed this is perfectly acceptable behaviour and other road users must beware when trying to overtake.

Kia sign - any car displaying a 'Kia' sign on it's rear end will have a maximum speed of 10mph below the given speed limit.  If a driver chooses to display a 'Kia' sign on their car (or purchases a car with a 'Kia' sign already appended to it) it is an invitation for other road users to overtake.  The 'Kia' sign displayer, however, will not be required to pull into a lay-by or any other convenient location to allow traffic to pass.  If the 'Kia' sign is obscured because the vehicle is towing a caravan it can safely be assumed the towing car is displaying the 'Kia' sign and the above assumptions will apply.

Fish symbol - a driver displaying the outline of a fish on the back of their car, either a sticker in the rear window or a metallic sign stuck to the boot lid, is entitled to drive in whatever manner they choose.  Any other road user will have to sit patiently behind them if they choose to drive slowly or wait if they choose to stop and have a mental breakdown whilst behind the wheel.  It is advisable that 'fish symbol' displayers will drive Volvo estates, usually of 20 year vintage.  And often in brown.

Little Princess on Board sign - a driver displaying a ' Little Princess on Board' sign will, in general, drive slowly and certainly no more than 5mph below the speed limit.  It should be noted that they are liable to swerve across the road and can sometimes stop suddenly.  As long as a 'Little Princess on Board' sign is displayed this is acceptable.  'Little Princess on Board' signs may only displayed on roads within urban areas.  Outside of those areas the sign must be removed.  If any driver sees a vehicle displaying a 'Little Princess on Board' sign outside of an urban area it is perfectly acceptable to drive very close to their rear bumper in an effort to make them speed up.

'England' (St George's Cross) sticker in back window - it is important to make the distinction between a Union Flag displayer and the ardent 'England' sign displayer.  A Union Flag displayed in the window has no distinction from any other car but an 'England' sticker means the car will be driven slowly, has no MoT, and may veer into a McDonalds without indicating.

* an edition we have made up