Around 70% of road signs in rural areas are unnecessary, according to a new report.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claims that a limited test on a 10-mile stretch of road in Hampshire proves that seven in ten road signs should be removed or incorporated into others. It says the A32 between West Meon and Wickham is typical of other rural roads and that evidence suggests that removing road signs forces motorists to pay more attention, making roads safer.

It cited the town of Drachten in the Netherlands, where half the road signs were removed with no detrimental effect on road safety.

A CPRE spokesman said: "Most of our rural roads are a mess of unnecessary and standardised signage that looks bland and encourages irresponsible motoring. By getting rid of this clutter, local councils, highway engineers and communities can make our countryside a safer and more attractive place to be".

The organisation is now pushing for the introduction of guidelines for Highway Agency authorities. The RAC Foundation has backed the initiative and is campaigning for a national review of road sign placement and design.