Speeding fine 'loophole' puts Drivers in the Dark

Friday, 12 September 2014

A keen-eyed motoring lawyer in Kent believes he's identified a legal loophole that could be exploited by speeding nighttime drivers, with local councils rushing to deny the claim.

Up to 70% of Essex's street lights and just over half of Kent's have been made 'part-time', typically switching off between the hours of midnight and 5am to save energy. But while environmentalists and those holding the purse strings in local government might support the move, barrister Antony Hook claims that it could give speeders a 'get out of jail free' card.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act (1984) says that a road is restricted to 30mph if there are street lights no further than 200 yards apart from each other on it. However, Hook has pointed out: "There is a strong legal argument that switching off street lights can in some cases remove a speed limit and provide a defence to a person charged with speeding."

While this observation does raise some difficult questions, at Swiftcover we’re not too convinced. After all, the onus is on drivers to know what’s expected of them, and the Highway Code states that the presence of street lights denotes a 30mph zone. An Essex County Council spokesman has explained this further: "Turning street lights off or on has no effect on the speed limit." Glad that’s cleared up, then.

We’re of the opinion that such 'loopholes' are usually best ignored; while some drivers might try to take advantage of them, it's worth being a bit more cautious so you won't need to make unnecessary car insurance claims.

If you're worried about speeders in your local area, you could try following the example of residents in Glentworth, Lincolnshire, and set up a reflective 'police' scarecrow to deter would-be speeders from putting their feet down. Believe it or not, it seemed to do the trick. Local authorities praised the "ingenuity" of the residents, despite the scarecrow's potential to "be a distraction to drivers".

At least this case has drawn attention to an issue that affects all of us, and might convince police to introduce new ways of preventing speeding in residential areas.

Sources:

http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Legal-eagle-suggests-Essex-streetlight-switch-key/story-22782701-detail/story.html

http://www.sevenoakschronicle.co.uk/Streetlight-switch-creates-speeding-loophole-says/story-22782759-detail/story.html

www.motortorque.com/blog/2014-08/scarecrow-policeman-slows-down-traffic-25952?

http://www.harlowstar.co.uk/Lawyer-warns-street-lights-switch-provide/story-22787320-detail/story.html

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