Speed Limit Signs Inadequate, Says Drivers' Group
Large numbers of drivers are being wrongly convicted of speeding, because the signs showing what speed limits are in force often fail to meet the legal minimum requirements, says the Association of British Drivers.
Highway authorities have a statutory obligation to erect and maintain signs to indicate where speed limits start and finish, and to remind drivers of speed limits with repeater signs. Those requirements are set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, which were most recently revised in January this year.
Even if local authorities manage to install the correct signs when a new speed limit first comes into force, many of them fail to maintain the signs properly afterwards. The result is that signs often become damaged or defaced, are obscured by foliage or simply disappear altogether.
If speed limit signs are not maintained in accordance with the regulations, the speed limits to which they relate are unenforceable. The police should check that all the necessary signs are present and correct before they begin enforcement, but they often fail to do so. Many drivers are being prosecuted, therefore, when they shouldn't be, but most of them simply pay up because they don't know the legal requirements about what signs should be there.
To help drivers become better informed, the ABD has just added a new page to its website, setting out what the requirements are for the signing of speed limits. The new page explains the statutory provisions and includes diagrams to show where signs must be placed in complex situations, such as at junctions and roadworks. The ABD's website is at www.abd.org.uk.
The ABD's Roads and Traffic Spokesman, Mark McArthur-Christie, says:
"The ABD is receiving increasing numbers of requests from drivers for advice, after they have been charged with exceeding a speed limit that they didn't know was there. When they have complained to the police, they have been told to pay up or go to court, and risk a bigger fine and more penalty points. The new information on our website will help drivers to check if the signs were correct, before they decide whether to obtain legal advice. It may also help police officers and local authorities, some of whom do not seem to know the requirements themselves!"
ABD Chairman, Brian Gregory, commented:
"The police say that no excuses will be accepted for drivers breaking the law. Well, that has to work both ways. No excuses can be accepted for highway authorities failing to maintain speed limit signs properly, or for the police failing to check those signs before they begin enforcement. Too many drivers are suffering as a result of a casual attitude towards justice in some quarters. This has got to stop."