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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Can a command speed sign be to big on a motorway

Resolved Question:

Can a command speed sign be to big on a motorway
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this. Please provide more details about this
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


It was on the A1M at Washington Newcastle in the north east. on leaving the motorway to go up the A1. the speed reduced from 70 to 50 but the signs for this was over size a lot larger than the normal command signs we have for our roads. My wife and I made a comment about the size of the signs and in this period a mobile speed camera was round the corner. which I feel that if the speed sign was the uniformed size we would not have been having the conversation about the size of signage. Also no speed camera signs on display. After the mobile speed camera repeat signs and speed camera signs on display.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

In principle, signs should be specific sizes but you really shouldn't take this point to trial.

There are only three automatic speed limits in the UK. The first is 30 mph in a restricted zone signed by street lights, the second is 60 mph in a single carriageway without street lights and the third is 70 mph on a motorway. If they want to vary those limits then they need authority from the Department of Transport and they need to erect signs that amount to ‘adequate guidance’ under S85 Road Traffic Act.

Signs of variation of the national limit are normally dustbin lid size upon entry and dinner plate size reminders.

However, there is absolutely no realistic defence in this. The case of Peake was very damaging even for absent road signs. Now 'adequate guidance' is defined as sufficient signing to alert the reasonably observant motorist.

The attitute you will meet with in court is that signs that are too big give more notification rather than less and so there is no merit in this point.

I'm very sorry but you will lose and have to pay costs if you argue this point.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So its okay to go from 70 miles to 50mph with no warning before hand. WE are asking for a 30% approx. reduction in speed, in traffic and at speed. I take the point about size and your reason but when you do not use the road for maybe a year or more and your in traffic the last thing you need is out of the norm for road signs. I see from Google maps that the signs in 2012 are the normal size sign which we would all be used to. Since you say that the bigger the sign the better. I ask my first question how big is bigger than the normal command sign. On the A1 a sign was removed from a farms field for Masham village. Because it was to big and could distract motorists. So it seems we do have a size point in law. You do not mention my ref to the speed camera warning signs. Should they be were the speed limit changes. I hope this will help you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

There was warning. There was a sign.

The other points that you make are covered in my answer above in relation to the case of Peake. Did you want to know anything else about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thanks. Sign size and the lay out do matter.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

It depends whether you can argue that it fails to provide 'adequate guidance' under S85 RTA. The case of Peake would seem to be against you unless there was something obscuring the sign in some way.

If you are trying to argue that the sign is just too large to be within the guidelines then the court will probably say that it just a case of a speeding motorist trying to use an imperfection to escape which is exactly the principle condemned in Peake.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69535
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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