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danny7147
Hi all! I've read a previous topic about this subject numerous times whilst doing my research and as my court case is only a couple of weeks away I'd love to hear some opinions about what I've found out.

There's a speed limit in Drovers Way, Dunstable of 20mph. I was caught doing 26mph. There's been a LOT of people caught by that speed camera, and, I was one of them. When I say a lot, one local newspaper article stated that in over 7000 people were caught by it in one year alone.

There's been countless people who have contested it on the basis that the repeater signs weren't regular enough... but nobody seems to have seen the most blatantly obvious thing that I've picked up on. It's not actually a speed limit.

The reason that I started contesting this had nothing to do with finding a holy grail. I live on the south coast and the nearest speed awareness course they offered me was a 450 mile round trip away. It just wasn't going to happen. I just figured I'd wait for the inevitable £100 fine/3 points and be done with it. When that arrived, I noticed something quite interesting. Instead of saying "caught in a 20mph limit", they actually said "in the Dunstable 20mph zone". Zone. Now, that's an interesting word.

I did a mountain of research, contacted the council, and it is indeed a zone rather than a limit. Now, 99.9% of people would assume that a zone is the same as a limit. Maybe that being caught doing 26 in a zone means breaking that limit. The problem there is that they're two totally different things. A limit has certain requirements... terminal signs, repeater signs, yada yada, but a ZONE has completely different requirements... all of while they've messed up on.

So, I have a summons from the Police AND a Traffic Order from the Council both stating that it's a zone. That's not up for dispute. Here's my argument.

1. A 20mph ZONE, has to have signs displayed at the start stating the word "zone". It's actually an official sign. They only have the standard 20mph signs. That (I think) completely invalidated the Traffic Order anyway as they've signed the entrance as a limit... but it gets better

2. At no point in a 20mph zone can you be more than 50m away from a traffic calming measure. Now, after 2016 the regulations were watered down and now a repeater sign actually counts as a traffic calming measure, but in the case of this zone it's irrelevant as I've found places where there's a 235m gap between a location and a repeater sign... there's actually only one place in the entire zone that's less than 50m away from two calming measures, the majority are 100m plus which would conform to a speed limit, but not a zone as stated in the Traffic Order.

3. A 20mph speed zone must be designed to be self enforcing. This is an interesting one. The sheer fact that there's a speed camera there indicated that this isn't the case, but as a back up I've got the figures for the last three years, and almost 15,000 people have been caught by it... that surely indicated that it sure as hell isnt' self enforcing?

Anyway, I think I've got a solid gold case to show that the signs don't conform to the traffic order present for it... the only thing that's niggling me is whether that's enough? Is it a case of proving that the signs aren't correct, or do I also have to prove that I wasn't aware of the 20mph limit as well? I probably can, the signs that are in place are in places that are completely obscured by vehicles when they park up at night and it was 8.30pm that I went down there... but I want to be prepared, so any opinions would be appreciated smile.gif
The Rookie
Your points
1. The signage can’t invalidate the traffic order, the order takes primacy the signs are there to convey the order to drivers, but yes if the signs don’t adequately convey the limit it’s unenforceable , note though that it’s not strict adherence but adequately convey, a court may consider the missing ‘zone’ as de minimus’ (a trifle), after all if you can state you didn’t see the zone sign logically you must have seen the 20? (Playing devils advocate) “Yes sir, I spotted the speed limit sign and noted it was a limit and not a zone, so when I didn’t see any traffic calming I decided I could exceed the 20mph speed limit as the zone couldn’t really be a zone” would probably get short shrift.

2. This is a valid point, but would also depend somewhat on where you were caught in relation to the traffic calming?

3. Well that’s not really a defence point, if you try at all it’s easy to exceed 20 in even a very well designed zone (even if I used third gear in mine I could get to over 40mph easily between 100m spaced calming), the number caught speeding would have to be assessed against the amount of traffic passing to see if it’s relevant, it may be 1% (not relevant) or 10% (rather relevant) or 100% (WTF went wrong......) in my opinion, without some statistics, on that it would be hard to judge. You could get a cheapish hand held radar and do your own survey (with a witness)......

I think you have an uphill struggle, magistrates are very inclined to convict where there are niceties of law involved leaving you to appeal to a Judge who would (or at least should, not also are) be in a better position to rule on that nicety.
typefish
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 02:35) *
I did a mountain of research, contacted the council, and it is indeed a zone rather than a limit.


Do you happen to have a copy of the TRO?
Jlc
I think your 'solid gold case' is optimistic.

Whilst I agree the signage on that road could be better, the argument around speed limit zone and speed limit won't hold. The limit is 20mph for both - it's just that the speed limit zone would have additional features to 'self enforce'. A failure to self enforce is not a defence. Camera's (static or mobile) can be used on either but the theory is the zone shouldn't need one.

If it is agreed that the signage (terminal + repeaters) is sufficient to convey the limit then you will be found guilty. A zone should really have the word 'zone' on the signage but the lack thereof does not change how the limit is conveyed. (Likewise, another recent case on here had a zone 'converted' to a limit and the word was not removed - again, no defence)

As Rookie has noted, lower courts may well fail to be convinced on these 'technical' arguments. I think the only chance of succeeding if it is agreed the limit is not sufficiently conveyed as per TSGRD2016 - and that has been watered down as noted.

QUOTE (typefish @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:18) *
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 02:35) *
I did a mountain of research, contacted the council, and it is indeed a zone rather than a limit.

Do you happen to have a copy of the TRO?

I'd like to see it too.
typefish
As something off topic, has anyone noticed the funky diagram 880 sign (blue sign with speed limit roundel + camera) near the camera?

GSV says it's a blue sign with 20mph - if anything, it should be yellow backed instead of being a bastardisation of 880, right?
Logician
I am afraid that I regretfully agree that you have little chance of acquittal in the magistrates' court and would have to take this to appeal possibly even to the divisional court and I would not give too much for your chances there. It might be fun to try but perhaps expensive fun. You could try writing to the local newspaper to see if anyone else will come in with you, and/or make a row about it locally. One positive thing is that your own knowledge of the 20mph limit or zone in not relevant, per Coombes v DPP where question 4 of the case stated was answered in the negative.
Jlc
QUOTE (typefish @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:38) *
GSV says it's a blue sign with 20mph - if anything, it should be yellow backed instead of being a bastardisation of 880, right?

GSV - start of limit here (note 2 terminal signs and roundel), first repeater, camera, next repeater (after camera) and southbound repeater (before camera). It's a forward-facing Truvelo - I don't think this is a slam dunk win...
NewJudge
Yes, looking at the Streetview I believe your chances of acquittal in the Magistrates’ Court are considerably slimmer than you think.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a higher court (probably beyond the Crown Court) eventually decides you are correct (which is by no means a certainty). When you entered that 20mph zone it must have been quite clear to you (as it certainly seems from the photos) that you should not exceed 20mph. There are clear 20mph signs at the beginning and reminders throughout. At that time you were not armed with the fruits of your later research so (Their Worships may ask themselves) why did you exceed 20mph?

You state, as part of your case, that “…the signs that are in place are in places that are completely obscured by vehicles when they park up at night.” Certainly looking at the entry “20” signs a court would find it hard to believe that they were obscured by parked vehicles as they are very close to the mini-roundabout and are adjacent to a pedestrian refuge. Any vehicles parked in that vicinity would be obstructing more than the signs. In any case, you need to decide whether you base your defence on the limit being unenforceable because the requirements of a “zone” were not met or whether the signs were obstructed. It is not wise to have a list of defence angles so that if Plan A fails you revert to Plan B.

As has been said, Magistrates tend to side with the prosecution in matters such as this (unless the error is blindingly obvious, in which case it probably would not have reached court). They tend to leave intricate matters of law to the higher courts, preferring instead to act in the spirit of the law and in line with what they see as Parliament’s intentions. I believe that if you intend to see this matter to the end your journey would be long and arduous and, in the event of failure, considerably more expensive than £100.
Jlc
What is the exact defence?

I note, for example, (TSGRD 2016) - Part 4 Schedule 10 1. (4) - 'At least one traffic calming feature as defined in paragraph (2)(a) to (e) must be placed within the zone indicated by the diagram 674 sign'. My emphasis.

Diagram 674 being the limit + 'ZONE' format.
danny7147
Thanks for the replies biggrin.gif There are quite a few questions to answer and it'll take a while, so bear with me.

A couple of you guys stated that even if the entrance to the zone was displaying 20, I should have seen it, and looking at it from Google Streetview doesn't actually show an accurate representation of the junction. It's been cited NUMEROUS times locally that the signs are too close to the roundabout to be seen as they are totally obscured by other signs as you turn left into Drovers Way. They 'do' comply with legislation (in terms of a 20mph limit) for how far they are away from the junction, but they're in a bloody stupid place.

I've actually got a copy of an article written by a local newspaper which has a section about the entry signs... the link to it is here:-

Dunstable News Desk article

The terminal signs are incorrect, and (approaching from the direction that I did), completely obscured until you go around the corner... and when you DO go around the corner, they're higher up than you can see. I think someone was under the impression that I couldn't see the terminal signs due to them being obscured, it's actually a few of the repeaters as the majority is a residential road, and once cars/vans are parked up at night the majority aren't visible.

Secondly, the distance between the signs. I actually spent some time measuring these a few nights ago, and there's only one point in the entire zone that is under 100m. The section directly around the camera is 91m, but that repeater sign is so far off to the left hand side that it doesn't reflect and isn't noticed at night. One distance is 143m, but the remainder are between 267m and 386m apart.

I do agree that it's likely to get referred to a higher court, but I won't be backing down on this one. There's no dispute that the signage is completely incorrect, and from a safety perspective, as 20mph zones should be designed to reduce traffic speed, on the basis that over 7000 people were caught in the last 12 months it's evident that the zone isn't working and needs some substantial reconsidering.

I will find the copy of the TRO by the way, it's in my emails.
Jlc
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 20:35) *
There's no dispute that the signage is completely incorrect

That's the crux of the matter - I'm not convinced it's so clear cut given TSGRD 2016. (Note where the repeaters are to the camera too)
danny7147
Sure, okay, I'll explain that part. I will make it very clear that the first time I actually knew that it was a 20mph limit was when the letter came through a week later... at the time, I didn't have a clue.

The problem with the signs is that they're inconsistent. I didn't drive down the entire length of Drovers Way, and if I had, there's a good chance I'd have actually had the opportunity to spot some of the signs in place. I turned left off of West Street into Drovers Way, left again into Spinney Crescent, stopped for about half an hour there, and then carried on down to the junction of Drovers Way and back out the same way that I'd come in. I haven't actually got any idea about the local daytime traffic facing Dunstable, and I've only been back there once to get photos of the signs.

Driving the route that I drove, you pass the initial terminal signs (which are almost impossible to see as I previously said), and the next repeater sign passed is a rough distance of 410m later. This measurement is based on Google Maps, so for argument's sake it may be as low as about 400m, but it's still a long way away. As it happened, the sign was obscured by a vehicle, and was only a few metres before where I needed to go to in Spinney Crescent, so I missed it completely.

After that sign, the next one is 330m after that, and well after I turned right back into Drovers Way. That sign is situated quite far to the left hand side. In 730m, I should have passed a minimum of 8 "traffic calming measures", I passed 3 including the terminal signs, and two of them were obscured. As it happens, the third of the three is only just before the site of the speed camera, and by the time you've seen it you're likely to be flashed.

Now, going back to the "it depends how close the 100m limit is to the camera", it isn't. The next sign is passed the camera 91m later facing the opposite direction.

I've actually just been reading an interesting article... it's notes from a traffic meeting concerning the implementation of the zone. I can't attach it as it's a PDF, but a couple of things in it I'll copy/paste here:-

The introduction of 20mph speed limits is relatively inexpensive
compared to physical traffic restraint measures and is seen as a
cost-effective way of making roads safer


This shows exactly what I suspected which is that even at the outset they had no intention of actually placing anything other than signage for a limit, and had Drovers Way (and surrounding areas) been designated as a limit rather than a zone it would have changed the argument substantially. The signs still aren't sufficient enough for a limit, but they could have been spaced further apart.

A decision was made by Central Bedfordshire Councillors not to
implement schemes involving large numbers of road engineering
features. Some physical traffic restraint features will be provided at
selected locations, particularly where vehicle speeds are currently high.
However, these measures will be targeted at specific locations and will
not be extensive. It is anticipated, based on experience, that the
introduction of a 20mph limit together with road markings and regular
repeater signs will lower the traffic speed by a few mph.


Another section states that "most drivers currently adhere to the 30mph limit", and it certainly appears that even at the outset they weren't expecting the scheme to reduce the speed very much anyway...

My favourite part of the report however is the response from Bedfordshire Police saying "Without appropriate road engineering on the main through roads this
authority will not support this scheme" rolleyes.gif
Jlc
Can you reference the legislation covering the referenced distances?
danny7147
Traffic Advisory Leaflet 9/99 states that "20 mph speed limits require terminal signs and repeater signs to diagram 670 (TSRGD). Terminal signs, to diagram 670, on trunk and principal roads within 50m of a street lamp must be illuminated. The terminal signs should be placed on both sides of the carriageway to form a gateway. Additional emphasis at the start of the speed limit can be provided by yellow backing boards."

Unfortunately I don't have time tonight to find it in depth, but I'm 99% sure that it's Direction 16 of the TSRGD that states that no point within a zone can be more than 50m away from a traffic calming measure... I'll need to look into it properly when I have time, but I do have it written down somewhere.
Jlc
Ok, you need this spot on. Advisories aren't going to carry much weight.
southpaw82
The relevant diagram is number 674. Direction 1 of the Schedule 10 directions applies to this sign, which says

QUOTE
(1) The sign provided for at item 5 of the sign table in Part 2 (“the diagram 674 sign”) may only be placed where no part of the road to which the speed limit applies is more than 50 metres from a traffic calming feature.

(2) The restriction in sub-paragraph (1) does not apply in respect of a road which is a cul-de-sac that is less than 80 metres long.

(3) Each of the following is a traffic calming feature—

(a) a road hump constructed pursuant to section 90A of the Highways Act 1980(1) (“the 1980 Act”) or section 36 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984(2) and in accordance with the Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1999(3) or the Road Humps (Scotland) Regulations 1998(4);
(b) traffic calming works constructed in accordance with section 90G of the 1980 Act(5) or section 39A of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984(6) and in accordance with the Highways (Traffic Calming) Regulations 1999(7) or the Roads (Traffic Calming) (Scotland) Regulations 1994(8);
(c) a refuge for pedestrians which was constructed pursuant to section 68 of the 1980 Act, or section 27© of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, after 15th June 1999 and is constructed so as to encourage a reduction in the speed of traffic using the carriageway;
(d) a variation of the relative widths of the carriageway or of any footway pursuant to section 75 of the 1980 Act, or section 1(1) or 2(1) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, which—
(i) was carried out after 15th June 1999 for the purpose of encouraging a reduction in the speed of traffic using the carriageway; and
(ii) had the effect of reducing the width of the carriageway;
(e) a horizontal bend in the carriageway through which all vehicular traffic has to change direction by no less than 70 degrees within a distance of 32 metres as measured at the inner kerb radius;
(f) a sign provided for at item 1 of the Part 2 sign table varied to “20”; or
(g) a road marking provided for at item 9 of that table varied to “20”.
(4) At least one traffic calming feature as defined in paragraph (2)(a) to (e) must be placed within the zone indicated by the diagram 674 sign.

(5) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1), the distance of 50 metres is to be measured along roads to which the speed limit indicated by the diagram 674 sign applies.


So, the absence of such traffic calming measures means it can’t be a "zone" - but then there’s no need for repeaters in a zone. Where you may come unstuck is a court deciding that the TRO sets a speed limit that can be effected in one of two ways: by a zone or normally. If it decides this it could go on to decide that the limit is adequately conveyed under the normal provisions.
danny7147
That's interesting, that clearly shows what the entrance signs should be, but I can't find the part relating to 50m from a traffic calming measure...

I will look into it properly when I get chance over the weekend, I do know that I've found it before, but I appreciate the help! smile.gif
southpaw82
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 22:03) *
That's interesting, that clearly shows what the entrance signs should be, but I can't find the part relating to 50m from a traffic calming measure...

I will look into it properly when I get chance over the weekend, I do know that I've found it before, but I appreciate the help! smile.gif

See my post above.
danny7147
There is actually one physical traffic calming measure, but it's at the opposite end of the zone from where I was. You've raised an interesting quandary though Southpaw82, it's very simple to argue that what they've done doesn't constitute a "zone" as per the traffic order, but I'm fairly sure that they don't comply with regulations for a limit either.

I'm more than happy to have legislation thrown at me by the way, I'd rather have you guys pointing out shortcomings now than be unprepared!

I've got some work to do tonight so I may have to continue replying tomorrow by the way...
roythebus
I suspect the 20 zone signs could be likened to the controlled Parking Zone signs? How many of us have never seen the signs upon entering a CPZ?
danny7147
That's a good point. I live in a "sticks" area so to be fair I'm not really clued up on the whole concept of 20mph zones and CPZs etc, but there are two fairly locally.

Down the road from us is a 20mph limit, it's clearly signed, and the road is so narrow through a village (naturally, it was there when horses were still the preferred means of transport!) that it's virtually impossible to exceed it anyway, and in Blandford there's a 20mph zone.

That zone is clearly marked and defined, complete with loads of speed humps and visible signage... that's why I'm really puzzled as to why Bedfordshire Council, which is far larger than my local one, could possibly assume that what they've done is in any way compliant.
NewJudge
Just for interest, when you travelled up Drovers Way on the occasion you were captured at 26mph did you have any idea that 20mph was the limit for the location? If you were to be asked that question in court (whilst under oath) what would you say?
danny7147
No, the camera was facing the opposite direction and my first reaction was to look in my wing mirror thinking that someone had got caught going in the opposite direction.

It was only about a week later that the letter came through and my wife called me to tell me that I'd got caught in a 20 zone that I knew about it. Even then I thought she meant in one of the local towns, it was only when I got home and read the letter that I knew it was in Dunstable.

I was puzzled at first, I didn't remember a 20 limit, and it was only after checking Google Maps that I first saw some signs...

So, in answer to your questions, no, I didn't have a clue that it was a 20 limit. I actually thought that I was doing 26 in a 30 glare.gif
peterguk
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Fri, 11 May 2018 - 12:28) *
I didn't have a clue that it was a 20 limit.


Did you pass these signs?

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8826633,-...3312!8i6656
danny7147
Yep, but that photo doesn't illustrate what you would see.

The issue with those signs are that (1) they're speed limit signs and it's a zone, (2) for 20mph limits the legislation 'recommends' a yellow background, and (3) you can see them clearly if you're turning right into Drovers Way from West Street but are completely obscured if you're turning left as the photo below shows...

I didn't see them simply because you're looking right at the mini roundabouts as you're turning left, and they're situated so close to the junction that you're still in the middle of the manoeuvre by the time you've passed them.

Incidentally, those signs are actually the opposite way from the direction that I was caught. As I did a loop, I got caught facing back towards West Street again.
peterguk
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Fri, 11 May 2018 - 14:24) *
those signs are actually the opposite way from the direction that I was caught.


So irrelevant to your case.

Can you post a GSV to the terminal signs you passed on your way in?
NewJudge
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Fri, 11 May 2018 - 14:24) *
The issue with those signs are that (1) they're speed limit signs and it's a zone, (2) for 20mph limits the legislation 'recommends' a yellow background,...

Yes, but as I said earlier, you did not have that information when you were caught. As I (and others) also said, the Magistrates may be less inclined to concern themselves with the legal intricacies you describe. They may well want to know why, with the plethora of signs that we have been shown here, you were not aware you were subject to a 20mph restriction. I don't know the location and can only go by the photographs. The problem is, unless you provide evidence to the contrary, so will the Magistrates.

Although decisions in Magistrates' Courts do not set precedents, with 6,000 fines potentially to be challenged, I think a Bench may be very reluctant to acquit you based on your premise that (a) the signage wasn't legal and/or adequate and (b) you didn't see it anyway. Of course the choice is yours but do let us know how you get on.
Jlc
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Fri, 11 May 2018 - 14:24) *
...but are completely obscured if you're turning left as the photo below shows...

Be careful with photo's that give a distorted view - whilst I agree the signs could be better, that photo shows it at its worst. Obviously, if moving there are more visible.
danny7147
NewJudge, I agree they're going to have a headache with this one due to the amount of tickets involved, but the number illustrates just how many people do not realise it was a 20mph zone.

There certainly isn't a plethora of signs, that's the problem. There are around a quarter of the amount of signs that there should be, and those that are in position are positioned badly. It shows how bad the area was when even the Police stated prior to it's implementation that they weren't willing to condone/enforce the zone due to the lack of sufficient traffic calming measures(!)...

I'm not particularly concerned with the signage side of this case, I've got the evidence that I need... my purpose for starting this thread (and joining this forum) was to try and find out whether I simply had to prove that the signs weren't correct or whether I had to also prove that the signs made me unaware of the limit. You are welcome to find it hard to believe that I wouldn't know the limit based on the signs, but the positioning is bad and they don't conform to legislation, it's that simple.

My biggest concern at this moment in time is that I've now emailed the court three times asking for it to be transferred to a different one and they've ignored every single email. They also never answer their phone.

What stemmed this to begin with was that the nearest speed awareness course they offered me was about a 500 mile round trip away(!), and the court that they've chosen, for their convenience, is about a 400 mile round trip and unlikely to be a fair trial as it's the local one to where it took place. For how many times they must have heard about this speed zone now I'm seriously dubious that it'll actually be a fair trial, I think that it needs fresh eyes looking at it to see whether it's compliant or not.

Whilst I appreciate your opinions, when I joined this forum I was expecting a little more "You should do this" rather than simply throwing "You won't win" at me... that's not exactly "Helping the motorist get justice" as stated at the top of the page. It's my birthday in a few days time, I've also got a mountain of work to get through as well to be able to shut my business down for the day to attend the court case so I won't be monitoring this thread anymore.
peterguk
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Sat, 12 May 2018 - 11:43) *
You are welcome to find it hard to believe that I wouldn't know the limit based on the signs, but the positioning is bad and they don't conform to legislation, it's that simple.


Can you post a GSV to the 20mph terminal signs you passed?
The Rookie
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Sat, 12 May 2018 - 11:43) *
NewJudge, I agree they're going to have a headache with this one due to the amount of tickets involved, but the number illustrates just how many people do not realise it was a 20mph zone.

Do they? Or do they show how many are prepared to flout it? They don't have speed cameras on national speed limits for fun, they still catch lots of people when the limit is beyond any doubt at all, as arguments go that's not holding much water!
southpaw82
QUOTE (danny7147 @ Sat, 12 May 2018 - 11:43) *
I won't be monitoring this thread anymore.

We didn’t agree with you so you spat your dummy and flounced off. Thread closed then.
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