Watch out for lampposts if you want to avoid a speeding fine, writes motoring lawyer Jeanette Miller.
A limit of 30 mph usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting, unless there are signs to say otherwise.
But although a lack of signage can be misleading and it does often catch motorists out, there is no legal requirement for a restricted road to have speed signs or repeaters.
A restricted road is one that has a system of street lighting in place with lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart.
And on such roads the speed limit is set at 30 mph.
What's more, the 30 mph limit is regardless of the number of lanes on the road.
So even where the road appears to be a dual carriageway where you would expect the speed limit to be 40 mph, the limit will be 30 mph if there are street lamps spaced 200 yards apart.
When signage can be a defence
If the restricted road does't have a system of street lighting in place, drivers won't be convicted of speeding unless the limit is indicated by traffic signs.
If using this as a defence in a court case, the following conditions must be met and proved by the defendant:
- The signs must be erected and maintained in such a way to provide adequate guidance to motorists of the speed limit.
- The signs must indicate the speed limit giving sufficient time for a motorist to slow down.
- If the sign only becomes visible once it's passed because of overgrown hedges, the signs aren't sufficiently displayed and this could be a defence.
- The signs must be repeated at regular intervals unless it is a restricted road or a motorway.
- The only signs that need to be lit are those signs at the beginning and end of the speed restricted road where there is an electrical street lamp within 50m.
- These signs should be illuminated during the hours of darkness or while the street lamps are lit. If these conditions are not met this may be a defence to speeding.
Challenges already made
Many motorists have challenged the speed limit restrictions or signs used.
Court decisions have made it clear that it does not matter if the speed limit signs are obscured on a restricted road - behind a tree, for example.
Also, it's immaterial if there's a minor variation such as one lamp missing or where two lamps were 201 and a half yards apart.
So, as harsh as it is, ignorance of the speed limit rules is no defence to speeding and a court will not take into account whether or not you were aware of the restrictions.