As a specialist firm of speeding solicitors, I regularly receive calls from people who are alleged to have committed speeding offences where they have made genuine mistakes as to the speed limit in force at the time. This seems to be particularly common in 30mph limits which are known as restricted roads.
One such example is the A358 Henlade which is just off junction 25 of the M5 in Somerset. In 2012 it was revealed that 5,300 motorists had been caught speeding on the 30mph limit off the M5 in the space of a year an extraordinary number for a stretch of road that is just one mile long. On restricted roads that have street lighting, speed limit signs are only permitted at the start of the limit. Regulations prohibit repeater signs on such roads. Therefore as the driver exits the M5 onto the A358, there are no signs to indicate that the road is subject to a 30mph limit. As our video demonstrates, it is easy to see how, in the absence of any signs, otherwise law abiding motorists are committing speeding offences having mistaken it for a 50mph or 60mph limit.
In a recent High Court case it was held that there is in fact no requirement for signs even at the start of a restricted road as the presence of street lamps should be sufficient to indicate to a motorist the existence of a 30mph limit. However, many roads which have a higher speed limit also have street lamps which causes even more potential for confusion.
Despite a campaign by a local Magistrate and county councillor to introduce a 40mph limit which would have to be subject to separate speed limit signs (www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/9799873.5_300_drivers_caught_speeding_per_year_on_A358_into_Henlade/) , the A358 remains a 30mph limit. It also happens to be an area that is regularly frequented by operators of mobile laser devices.
Our advice to drivers is not only to pay close attention to speed limit signs but be aware of roads which do not have signs. If you do fall foul of the speed limit in an area that is not clearly signed there may be a defence to the charge or alternatively it may be possible to persuade the Court to impose a more lenient penalty than normal. Call 0845 433 4678 to speak to our speeding solicitors.