12 Apr 2016.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Scrapping of Speed Limit Signage Regulations Will Cause Danger and Confusion
The Government's decision to scrap the Statutory requirement for signing speed limits can only result in multiple signing standards, the creation of real danger, genuine confusion and the criminalisation of swathes of the motoring public.
The ABD first received unequivocal confirmation of the imminent scrapping of the statutory duty to provide speed limit signing (initially proposed in 2014) in the new signing regulations on April 1st and, given the jaw-dropping nature of the notification, we obviously assumed it to be no more than a prank. We were shocked to find it isn't.

When Parliament gives its approval by negative resolution to the new Regulations then, from 22nd of this month, the law mandating councils to erect and maintain traffic signs at the entry and exit points of speed limits and use of intermittent, regular repeater signs has been deliberately and totally revoked.

This also appears to apply to 20MPH zones which, until now, should not be subject to enforcement (but they clearly are now intended to be).

The government has replaced the mandatory requirement with a simple suggestion that local authorities should merely follow the existing 'guidelines'.

This means that councils are to be under no legal obligation to provide any signing whatsoever for speed limits, leaving authorities to conclude that the term adequate guidance in law now means - providing absolutely NOTHING. 1

Road signage expert witness Richard Bentley2 said:
“The speed enforcement industry has long hated the fact that some drivers can be said to have escaped prosecution due to what they see as 'technicalities or loopholes'. But these are far from technicalities or legal loopholes. They were Statutory defences that were there to protect the public from lax local authority practices.

It has always been a fundamental principle of road safety that when the law expects drivers to adhere to local bylaws, drivers must be informed of the existence of a restriction in a clear, consistent and adequate manner, as set out in the Highway Code and now formerly in law. This was the national signing standard known as 'the law'.

The vast majority of drivers do not go out intending to break the law, create danger, cause injury or death. Most acquittals resulted from the fact that councils chose to fail to undertake transparent, simple signing laws and then blamed drivers for the authority's own failings.”
These new laws will result in dual, if not multiple, signing standards. The national standards will be reduced to ad hoc, conflicting, confusing and non-existent regimes leading to misunderstanding, massive increases in NIP's, driver awareness courses, court appearances, disqualifications, loss of jobs, homes and marriages.

The consequence of which can only be a measurable reduction in road safety. How on earth can that benefit the nation?

The Government's suggestion that by removing the signing burden will lead to the public rapidly seeing 'improvements' and reductions in congestion can only come about if the number of vehicles / drivers are dramatically reduced.

And therefore we have to actually ask if that is the true intent of this legislative folly.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries commented:
“This change in regulations will not only result in a free-for-all for the lucrative speed enforcement industry to target drivers who have been caught out by absent signage, it will also cause danger.

Despite the steady erosion of any science behind speed limit setting, there are still many limits set for good reason and this change can only result in millions more drivers exceeding them, the generation of many more penalty notices and 'Awareness Course' attendees / fees — the ethical basis of all of which will be questionable — coupled with a further degradation in road safety.”
ABD founder member and Director, Brian Gregory, commented:
“This whole grubby episode clearly demonstrates that the unregulated, out-of-control speed enforcement industry is being allowed to write its own rules. It has inevitably come up with a Highwayman's Charter that will maximise profits at the expense of real road safety. Genuinely independent oversight and regulation of this morally bankrupt industry is long overdue.”

1. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 replace those in force since 2002
2. Richard Bentley. Traffic signs expert
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