View Full Version : Good motoring news from Somerset!

Standard Noise
21st Dec 2006, 08:22
This article caught my eye in our local paper this morning......

Driver wins speed sign battle
A businessman found guilty of speeding despite road signs being masked by an overgrown hedge had his conviction overturned today (I think they mean Wednesday) after a judge ruled he had insufficient time to see them. John Coombes, from Wells, was arrested after he was spotted doing 46mph in a 30mph zone on the rural B3139 Bath Road in Horrington, Wells in July last year.
Mr Coombes, who was convicted of speeding by Frome Magistrates in January, challenged his conviction in London's High Court and Mr Justice Walker allowed his appeal. The businessman had previously unsuccessfully appealed his ruling at Bristol Crown Court. His lawuers claimed the speed signs were "almost entirely obscured" not just where they indicated the immediate limit which Mr Coombes exceeded, but "for the entire length of the road". Given the way the signs were screened by the roadside hedge, they were not properly "maintained and erected" as required by law.
Kerry Barker for the DPP conceded the nearside road sign was obscured.......Mr Justice Walker said that the signs were in the correct place at the right height, but they were "visible only at the point at which Mr Coombes drove past them. This was because until that point they were obscured by overgrown hedgerows."
The key issue was whether the signs were adequate if a driver could see the speed sign "at the point at which they are passed." He concluded the sign should have "conveyed the limit to an approaching motorist in sufficient time for the motorist to reduce from a prevois lawful speed to a speed within the new limit."

Wells Journal, Mid Somerset Newspapers 21/12/06

21st Dec 2006, 10:10
I know of at least one place near me where the 30 signs are visible approx. 1 metre ahead due to the trees etc. overgrowing them.

But I am sure any such efforts to challenge would be blocked by the Lancashire Partnerships for Boosting Speeding Figures, or whatever they are called.

I am surprised the person in question won the case, as anyone should know, speed limit signs are NOT the only visual clue to a 30 mph zone.

21st Dec 2006, 10:37
Not exactly sure what you're implying there eal.

If the speed limits are genuinely there for safety reasons, then they should be clearly indicated by signs which meet criteria of visibility and placement, not reduced to some sort of guessing game with motorists looking for "clues".

Of course, if the idea is to catch people out and collect as many fines as possible, then leaving the signs to get overgrown will help rake the cash in . . .

21st Dec 2006, 10:54
Of course, if the idea is to catch people out and collect as many fines as possible, then leaving the signs to get overgrown will help rake the cash in . . .

Especially if you can also arrange for the positioning of the sun to obscure the two '30' roundals painted on the road to back up the speed limit signs, as in this case.

Captain Smithy
21st Dec 2006, 11:08
I am surprised the person in question won the case, as anyone should know, speed limit signs are NOT the only visual clue to a 30 mph zone.

Yup... as is stated in the Highway Code. Although most people don't know what that is.:uhoh:

Standard Noise
21st Dec 2006, 11:13
The rights and wrongs of the guy speeding are one thing, but it is incumbant on the authorities to make sure the signage is visible to approaching traffic. The bit of road in question comes to a village where the road winds through it past a primary school. It does beg the question why the signs were left obscured by hedgerows in a place where we should all exercise extreme caution. If the 'authorities' ie Police, councils, safety camera partnerships etc are serious about safety, then they could at the very least provide clear signage in the vicinity of a primary school.

I have to admit that the guy was local, knew the speed limits and therefore should have taken more care near the school. I'm not 'for' speeding and 'against' speed limits/camera/speed traps per se, but the authorities have a statutory responsiblity which they failed to carry out.
If this ruling makes the authorities take their responsibilities more seriously, then I'm all for it.

Captain Smithy
21st Dec 2006, 11:21
Agreed - quite often I do drive past road signs that are covered by foliage - bloody lazy/useless/car-hating (delete as applicable) Edinburgh Council's fault.

21st Dec 2006, 12:14
Not exactly sure what you're implying there eal.

Sorry. The point was that whilst allowing the signs to become obscured is irresponsible on the part of the council, there are potentially other visual clues for the motorist to imply a 30 limit.

Though, to be fair, I do not know the road in question here, so can't be sure if such clues were obvious.

21st Dec 2006, 12:27
Trouble is, they're not very consistent.

I assume you are referring to things such as street lighting, yet there are plenty of stretches of road around here with street lighting and 40 or 60 limits - and equally, 30mph limits on roads without lampposts that are not in built up areas. [Yes, I know the higher limits are supposed to have little "repeaters" on the lampposts but we all know that these are often missing].

The speed limit on the dual carriageway between Stirling and Glasgow bounces all over the place 70, 50, 70, 30, 50 without much rhyme or reason. The newest, most recently constructed, stretch well away from any builtup areas has a 50 limit - why ? It is a modern road, good surface, straight as a die with excellent visibility. Yet the limit is 20 lower than an older section just a couple of miles away with lots of junctions, sliproads, laybys, petrol stations and other hazards.

So the "clues" bear little relation to the posted limit. I agree, it would be better if people were trusted to use their judgment to read the road and adjust their speed according to hazards present (and educated to do so), but while we have a culture that instead requires us to adhere slavishly to an arbitrary numerical limit, then that limit has to be indicated by clear signs.

21st Dec 2006, 13:02
I agree. Consistency or the lack of it, is where many problems start. There should for instance be a straight, nationwide limit of 20mph past schools and is someone is caught, they get the book thrown at them. Instead speed limits past schools in my area vary between 30 and 40mph. A wide urban road, with a wide grass verge and then a footpath on either side should either be 30 or 40, but should never be potentially either. To be fair to our local council, at the same time as investing in revenue camera's, have also invested in the signs which detect you speed and then flash a "Slow Down" message at you: I would say that these generally work well.

Standard Noise
22nd Dec 2006, 12:06
There's one of them there flashy signs on the A38 just down from Brizzel Airport. Damned thing flashes at you to tell you the limit is 50 even when you're doing less than that, it flashed me one day when I was following a caravan under tow which was doing 35 according to my speedo. The one at the bottom of the hill on the other side won't flash even if you're doing 60! Can't figure it out myself.

22nd Dec 2006, 13:04
Expensive gimmicks is what those flashy signs are.

Saw one of the local ones fire up for a postman pushing his bike!