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NIP for 29mph in 20mph VSL on M5
Based on the video, what do you think?
Is it reasonable that I got a NIP for this?
Yes [ 16 ] ** [30.77%]
No [ 8 ] ** [15.38%]
That's irrelevant, it was the speed limit [ 28 ] ** [53.85%]
Total Votes: 49
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rartiger
post Sun, 24 Sep 2017 - 23:03
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Hi everyone,

I've just received a NIP for passing the first and only 20mph variable speed limit sign on the M5 at 29mph. The road was clear, visibility was perfect, the road well lit, there was no traffic, but there were 3 well signed and fully coned and lit lane closures coming into effect. The speed limit had reduced from 60, to 40, then to 20, although the next sign showing 40 was already visible. I was surprised by the 20mph limit as given perfect visibility I could see there was no issue in the road ahead (and to be honest I didn't know it was possible to have a 20mph on the motorway), but sought to slow down gradually from 40mph. Essentially as soon as I saw the sign I clicked my adaptive cruise control down to 20mph and let it gradually slow down. The HADECS3 camera was enforcing at the exact point of the change in speed limit and at that point I had apparently only got down to 29mph. In surprise at seeing the flash I then instinctively braked to slow down to well below 20mph. Bizarrely the speed limit then increased again as I approach the traffic lighted junction, which was busier and more dangerous than the 20mph limit section.

See it for yourself from my dash cam: https://youtu.be/FBBllqt_BkY (you'll notice that my big failure was not seeing that the car ahead had been caught by the speed camera and responding accordingly - but that was harder to see in real life than in the video!)

Up to now I have a totally clean record and always obey the speed limit and so am feeling extremely bruised by this. I accept that I could have braked to slow down more to the 20mph limit rather than coasting down with the brake pedal covered, but do not feel what I did was in any way dangerous and that both the speed limit and the extremely aggressive application of it was extremely unusual and more than a little unreasonable.

Do you think I stand any hope of fighting this? I feel rather hard done by that being caught doing 29mph in a 20mph limit implies I was driving fast or dangerously near a school or something, when in fact I was driving safely on a pretty empty M5. It'll cost me on my insurance for years I assume.

I can't find any reference to 20mph speed limits that isn't close to schools or in very urban areas, but presumably there is at least some governance and guidance on the setting of variable speed limits to prevent them just being used as a blatant cash raising scheme? So the person setting the limit must have some solid safety or congestion justification for the 20mph limit being in force?

Grateful for views - including on whether the limit itself appears reasonable and whether i am wrong to believe that I was driving safely given the video.

If I can't fight this, I can only assume that the expected behaviour is to always brake immediately you see a change in VSL to ensure you never ever pass the first sign above the speed limit - even in busy environments where this feels less comfortable given traffic behind. But I'm not sure anybody drives like that in reality - when I have obeyed 40mph VSLs on the M25 in the past I've always been terrified by every lane of traffic smashing past at 80mph.

Thanks for your insights,

rartiger
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post Sun, 24 Sep 2017 - 23:03
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Churchmouse
post Wed, 27 Sep 2017 - 08:48
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Did anyone answer the OP's question about whether a 20 (variable) limit on a motorway is allowed? Just out of curiousity, how about 10?

--Churchmouse
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The Rookie
post Wed, 27 Sep 2017 - 09:14
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That would depend solely on the TRO that enables the VSL. If the TRO says it can be set to 20, it can, if the lower limit is 30 it cannot.


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typefish
post Wed, 27 Sep 2017 - 09:30
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QUOTE (Churchmouse @ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 - 09:48) *
Did anyone answer the OP's question about whether a 20 (variable) limit on a motorway is allowed? Just out of curiousity, how about 10?

--Churchmouse


As far as I can recall there cannot be limits lower than 20mph on a motorway; the next available speed limit is 10mph which is when traffic would usually be escorted through. So, if 10mph is required the motorway should be closed.

I also believe HADECS3 is type approved to enforce 20mph - I'd back that up but I'm at work so I can't find the document.
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The Rookie
post Wed, 27 Sep 2017 - 09:31
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HADECS3 is approved for a 20, so its very likely the TRO will permit a 20 limit.


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rartiger
post Mon, 9 Oct 2017 - 20:56
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Highways England have now confirmed that the 20mph limit was set because the ‘signs and signals standards’ require a 20mph limit immediately before the red X indicating a full ‘carriageway closure’. They have not provided the standards in question so I cannot yet check what this rule was intended for, but it would make sense if the motorway was fully closed and I was going to have to come to a complete stop. 20mph seems very appropriate in the case of approaching a full closure that requires you to stop.

As anyone who has reviewed the video can see, the carriageway was not fully closed - there were two open lanes with 40mph speed limits in force alongside the red Xs on the same gantry, in the same lanes as the 20mph limit and immediately after the 20mph limit came into force.

Can anyone confirm whether this meets the legal definition of a ‘full carriageway closure’? And if not would this be grounds to argue that the 20mph limit was improperly set?
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The Rookie
post Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 03:31
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But you don't know if the carriageway was then opened after you had passed the 20? Besides there would likely be stationary traffic for sometime after the carriageway opens so they wouldn't raise the limit until it had time to clear.

Really I think you are on a hiding to nothing.


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baggins1234
post Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 06:27
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It is a full carriageway closure as the M5 north was shut alongside the direct access from the M5 to the M4 east and west distributor slips.

All vehicles left at junction 16 via the slip road to be able to rejoin the M4 from junction 16. The two lanes that you refer to as being open are on the exit slip road, not the main carriageway.

M5 traffic was diverted north along the A38.

You may like to consider that the M5 was shut due to a collision where 4 people died and although this may seem irrelevant to your case (which to be honest, it is) it may not be as irrelevant when stood in a Court?

For example 'your worships, 4 people have died and the defendant is saying the speed limit was unfair'

I know it won't be as quite as brutal as that but you need to be aware of this as something that may be raised.

This post has been edited by baggins1234: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 06:31
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cp8759
post Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 07:14
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QUOTE (baggins1234 @ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 07:27) *
For example 'your worships, 4 people have died and the defendant is saying the speed limit was unfair'


To be honest if one wanted to challenge the lawfulness of the limit one would need to go down the judicial review route, the magistrates simply do not have jurisdiction to consider questions of public law. And whether the speed limit is "fair" or not would be irrelevant in any event.
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cp8759
post Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 07:27
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QUOTE (rartiger @ Mon, 9 Oct 2017 - 21:56) *
Highways England have now confirmed that the 20mph limit was set because the ‘signs and signals standards’ require a 20mph limit immediately before the red X indicating a full ‘carriageway closure’. They have not provided the standards in question so I cannot yet check what this rule was intended for, but it would make sense if the motorway was fully closed and I was going to have to come to a complete stop. 20mph seems very appropriate in the case of approaching a full closure that requires you to stop.

As anyone who has reviewed the video can see, the carriageway was not fully closed - there were two open lanes with 40mph speed limits in force alongside the red Xs on the same gantry, in the same lanes as the 20mph limit and immediately after the 20mph limit came into force.

Can anyone confirm whether this meets the legal definition of a ‘full carriageway closure’? And if not would this be grounds to argue that the 20mph limit was improperly set?


I suspect there isn't a definition and a court would take "full carriageway closure" to simply mean that the road is closed. I have no idea what the 'signs and signal standards' are, but I can only imagine they are referring either to the Traffic Signs Manual (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-signs-manual) or volume 8 of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (http://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/ha/standards/dmrb/vol8/index.htm), but you could always just ask them to clarify and send you a copy of the guidance they are following.

At this point I would just accept the SAC/fixed penalty. If you are still determined to fight this, you would need to go to the high court and argue that the guidance itself is wrong to the point of being unlawful, or the circumstances of this case were such that the guidance was misapplied, if you want to go down this route it is imperative that you confirm exactly which guidance document they are referring to.
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baggins1234
post Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 10:19
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QUOTE (cp8759 @ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 08:14) *
QUOTE (baggins1234 @ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 - 07:27) *
For example 'your worships, 4 people have died and the defendant is saying the speed limit was unfair'


To be honest if one wanted to challenge the lawfulness of the limit one would need to go down the judicial review route, the magistrates simply do not have jurisdiction to consider questions of public law. And whether the speed limit is "fair" or not would be irrelevant in any event.


I know that, I was trying to show the OP the pitfalls of MC if it was an avenue he was seeking to use.
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