Between the 1980s and 2002, a-road signs used either white-on-green or black-on-white depending on the class (and therefore the signing) of the road. This is now no longer the case, and signs should be either white-on-blue (motorway) or black-on-white (a-road), and from 2015 all remaining white-on-green services signs will be rendered illegal.
Until the introduction of the green sign in the 1980s, there were no signs for TRSAs. However, the Department for Transport had started to use the blue motorway signs, which attracted criticism from motorway operators who reckoned their reputation was being dragged down by unscrupulous roadside garages.
Where a motorway service area is accessed from another road, Diagram 2310.1 should be used. This is similar to Diagram 2919.1, but it doesn't include a header board or the price of fuel. It is the property of the operator.
In 2012, the standard set of motorway signs were changed to include more brand logos. This and the other a-road signs weren't changed, and continue to use no logos.
Until the sign was introduced in 2002, large green signs would be used. This new style is a throwback to the original unofficial a-road services signs.
Much like the approach sign on the motorway, Diagram 2313.1 is placed half a mile before a service area, or more if that would interfere with other signs. There are two completely different signs which can be used here:
- Diagram 2313.3 includes a plate saying either 'not 24 hours' or 'fuel only 24 hours'.
- Diagram 2313.5 should be used for services which are open to lorries only (includes the HGV symbol and "lorries only".
- A variant of Diagram 2313.5 should be used for services which ban lorries, with a red bar through the symbol and "lorries only" omitted (this can be seen below).
All of these signs allow for the geographical name of the services to be included but it's not mandatory. The symbols on the sign are varied depending on the facilities, and can include: WC, petrol pump, either a cup or a fork and spoon, LPG, tourist information and a bed. They no longer need to include the disabled symbol as all services are expected to provide disabled access anyway.
These signs are the responsibility of the operator.
Where the services are at a junction, there is a similar range of signs to be included immediately before the diverge. The signs provide the same information but include an arrow pointing in the correct direction (which is almost always down a sliproad). If the previous sign was a Diagram 2313.1 then Diagram 2313.2 should be used here, 2313.4 should come after 2313.3 and 2313.6 should come after 2313.5 - the latter is the example used here.
These signs are also the responsibility of the operator.
For years Diagram 2314.1 was used at the exit into services, which says services with a left-pointing chevron. The problem is that the chevron implies the exit is at or nearly at a right angle, which isn't usually right. Since 2002 Diagram 2314.2 has an arrow pointing to the top-left, like similar signs usually found at a junction.
If the services are at a junction, then the legend 'Services' may be added to the usual exit sign, and to any other direction signs, provided this wouldn't lead to an overload of information. An example of this can be seen under 'continuity signing'. Unlike the motorway equivalent, these signs are the responsibility of the operator.
Where services aren't immediately accessible from the road, the legend 'Services' on a white patch should be used to direct traffic to the right place. The example to the right is a cross between this and an exit sign.
Traders in by-passed communities often ask for signs to direct traffic back onto the old road. They or the local authority can fund a Diagram 2308.1 sign which points to "local facilities" and includes the symbols WC, petrol pump, cup, spoon and fork, bed and tourist information as required. For more specific facilities, Diagram 2328 should be used, which is in white-on-brown tourist colours.
If the direction to these facilities is not obvious, Diagram 2309.1 points to them and includes the distance.
Diagram 2025 looks like a normal junction sign, but has an extra road leaving the destination and rejoining the main carriageway. This can also be used to show a village which is alongside the main road and allows you to easily drive through it.
Where a truckstop doesn't meet the standards required but it's been decided that it warrants some signing anyway, Diagrams 2502 (one mile ahead), 2505 (final sign) and 2507 (at the entrance) should be used. These all have the parking HGV symbols, and the one mile sign can include toilets and a pay phone. These are all paid for by the operator.
While these aren't service areas such, it's worth noting lay-bys. These are built and run by the Highways England and the 1 mile sign should either consists of Diagram 2501 (the blue P sign) or, for larger services, Diagram 2502, which is black-on-white and can include the symbols for parking, toilets, pay phone, tourist information and HGV spaces. The entrance should have a Diagram 801 sign (the standard parking sign).