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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My partner has taken a driving test today and failed because

Resolved Question:

My partner has taken a driving test today and failed because he did not see a sign indicating a speed change from 30 to 40 as he left the town centre.
The sign was obscured by an overgrown bush and it was not seen also by his own driving instructor who was in the test car, for the whole period of the test.
Another driver also failed his test at the same time for the same reason, and commented that "it happens all the time".
My partner and I both feel this is unreasonable and in fact unsafe, as some drivers who know the road will speed up, whereas drivers unfamiliar with the road will not. To whom should this be reported - ie. signage obscured by trees or bushes - and would you recommend appealing to the DVLA (technically it would be a complaint, I believe) as it is potentially affecting all drivers taking tests on that road, and is unfair and also causing financial and other disadvantage to drivers who may need the licence for fair use of a car, family, employment etc. etc.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 months ago.

Was it that he did not see the sign or did he not slow down to 30 mph? If he was speeding, but regardless of the signage, it is an offence of strict liability and an automatic fail.

This might seem a very odd question, particularly as the test was in daylight, but is there any street lighting?

The reason I ask is that if there is a system of street lighting, the presence of the signage is actually not relevant and the driver is supposed to know that if there is a system of street lighting and no repeater signs, that the speed limit is 30 mph.

However, the fact remains that drivers do rely on speed limit signs to regulate the speed. I agree with you that it’s unfair and it would certainly not prevent me making a complaint. However I don’t think you’re going to have the positive result that you are hoping for.

Sorry, I wish I could give you a more favourable answer.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The issue of speed was that the driver should have INCREASED speed from 30 to 40.
I will ask about the street lighting arrangements.
Many thanks, ***** ***** sorry it is now 5 pm. as I did not know of this service, but I may come back to you tomorrow regarding the lighting issue - interesting point.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 months ago.

Thank you. In which case, the reason for failure would probably be that he didn’t keep pace with traffic conditions.

I think you have more chance of making a complaint about the failure to increase speed than the other way round.

Make sure that you go out now and take lots of photographs which you can send with the complaint.

You need to show that it really is obscured you also need to show that there are no repeater signs further on and that there is no sign on the other side of the road. All of that, if it exists, is likely to be fatal to the complaint.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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