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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Is there any defence/mitigation a red light

Customer Question

Is there any defence/mitigation for transgressing a red light (I think) when a traffic light filter configuration is clearly illogical/confusing/(wrong) and the other set of lights obscured by an overgrown tree at pavement level? (London Red Route).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Jo,

Apologies for short delay - I have just revisited the junction where I believe I transgressed a red light earlier this morning, to see a succession of other (confused) drivers do exactly the same when the filters can be construed to proceed (photo).

Look, without going into the detailed road configuration now, and given that it took place on a London Red Route and a junction with a TFL safety camera, assuming it was in operation, I think the likelyhood is that I will be issued with a NIP in the next 14 days.

As a driver in London for many years with a clean licence, I just seek your view as to whether if I receive the notice I just accept it (fine/endorsement) or at least make a case for leniency given that on the face of it the lights are as I say confusing/wrongly configured and as such may not be the most effective in achieving maximum safety.

Thank you for your attention.

John Steele

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
So the lights are obscured by foliage? What about the ones in the middle of the road?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The two sets in the middle of the road are not obscured,however they are on the same setting as the nearside (partially obscured) pavement lights showing a left and ahead filter, above and beyond the dedicated right hand filter (third) lane.

Again I have just witnessed over a 90 minute period this afternoon as well as in the morning commute, a continuous number of drivers caught out by the confusing light configuration, and I am not talking here about jumping a red (orange to red) light.

Thank you for your continued attention and as you may gather this is the first time in decades of driving I have needed some legal advice regarding driving (red lights/junctions) and how to prodceed.

John Steele

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I'm really sorry but I don't understand.
Traffic lights are normally signed by lines on the ground and two sets of lights. Sometimes one in the middle of the road.
Were they both completely obscured?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Jo and apologise for the lack of clarity so far to enable you to establish the facts and offer meaningful advice.

On further investigation/research of the crossroad lights; whilst the nearside primary signal was completely obscured from some way down the approach lane(s) and partially obscured virtually up to the stop line,the secondary/duplicate primary and secondary set of lights were clear.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. There is a defence in saying that the lights were obscured. Traffic lights are just signs like any other. Signs have to be clear and unobscured. However, the new case law has been very restrictive on the point and has said that this argument is only open to a person who literally cannot see the signs at all. It used to be thought that the requirements were total compliance with the requirement and any imperfection was a challenge. It is always difficult to tell from a description but if you are saying that one set of lights were clear then probably that is enough for them to rely upon. In terms of mitigation, that is always dangerous. The danger lies in the fact that Court could start saying you are raising a defence not mitigiating and set it down for trial which racks up the risk of costs. If this is just a red light offence then anyway it would only carry 3 points and a fine and the penalties are fixed by law so there is no benefit in mitigation really. Sorry if that is bad news. Can I clarify anything for you? Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Thank you for your expert (considered) reply and apologies for the delay in replying.

I have taken up this confusing junction/light configuration with both tfl and met police in the meanwhile.

The outcome being there are no prosecutions pending and an additional filter is being condsidered at the junction. The offending branches have since been removed by a tfl contractor.

Once again thank you for you response and I now consider this case closed.

Yours, John Steele.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem.
Glad it worked out.
All the best.