ABD expresses wheelie bin concerns

12.00 | 11 July 2012 | | 15 comments

The Association of British Drivers (ABD) has expressed concern that community speedwatch partnerships are encouraging people to put fake 30mph signs on their wheelie bins to slow down motorists.

The ABD is questioning whether this practice is legal and appropriate, specifically highlighting the Wealden district in Sussex, where it is being utilised.

The ABD describes the practice as “potentially dangerous” and a “distraction”, while Wealdon’s police chief says the signs are an “innovative way of educating motorists”.

Malcolm Heymer, ABD spokesman and former highways engineer, says: “There are strict rules in place for roadside signage, including the frequency and placement of all speed limit signs. Signs that do not conform to the regulations are not legal and can cause distraction, possibly leading to a vital warning sign or hazard being missed.

“Drivers need and expect uniformity of road signage. In built-up areas with street lighting and a 30mph speed limit, the regulations prohibit repeater speed limit signs. While the ABD does not necessarily agree with this restriction, large numbers of illicit 30mph signs on wheelie bins are a direct contravention of the regulations and could cause confusion.

“It is most disturbing to see police forces and local councils not only encouraging householders to erect unauthorised copies of road signs contrary to regulation, but in some cases also supplying such signage. This is a potentially dangerous practice and makes a mockery of signage rules. These authorities really should know better.”

Chief Inspector Dick Coates, Wealden district policing commander, said: “Neighbourhood panels, made up of residents in Wealden almost always identify speeding motor vehicles as an issue. My teams continually look at ways of dealing with these problems. Along with ongoing enforcement of speeding motorists, education is a priority. We have some excellent speed watch groups that work tirelessly across Wealden and the bin stickers are another innovative way of educating motorists.”

For more information contact the ABD on 0870 4442535, or click here to read the full Sussex Police report.


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    The only people moaning about these signs are those who break the law and speed in residential areas. Those who want a legal way out of a prosecution and those who obviously cannot differentiate between between a proper road sign and a sticker on a bin.

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    Looks like a job for our new Police & Crime Commissioners to take a lead on.

    Adam Smith, Maidenhead
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    Big Society? If someone decides to speed continually, blatantly disregarding the law should they not be prosecuted? In my village 1,000 cars a day travel through at over 38mph according to a recent metro count. The police and council are doing nothing about it, condoning 365,000 crimes occuring in my village every year. I wonder if there were 365,000 muggings what their reaction would be? So if it was your village what would you do? Walking my child to school is unsafe due to the amount of speeding vehicles. What would you do to protect your child? 30mph signage doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

    Simon – Wiltshire
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    I seem to remember seeing that some residents have done just that.

    Ian – Dover
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    Are some of these comments for real? The stickers placed on bins are smaller and obviously a lot lower down than proper road signs. If a motorist cannot tell the difference should they be driving? The stickers are to remind drivers (who seem blind to repeater signs anyway) what the limit is. As the law prevents repeaters from being erected in 30 zones (and the cost would be horrendous), this seems to be a reasonable compromise for beleagured neighbourhoods.

    Andy , Warwick
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    If someone covered their bin in those fake brickwork camoflague stickers would they constitute an illegal extension to their home? The bins will be out for how many hours? Let’s look at some serious issues!

    Olly, Lancs.
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    If a police force takes the view (as many do) that the presence of these stickers constitutes a repeater sign that would jeopardise a prosecution, they will not carry out enforcement where the stickers are being used. This information would need to form part of the discussion within the local community wishing to fund and adopt the stickers and they can then make an informed decision as to which course of action they think will be more effective and which they wish to take: reminders or enforcement.

    There will be a communications issue within the police force to ensure that the neighbourhood policing teams are made aware of this (by their roads policing or criminal justice team colleagues) and communicate it to their local communities before decisions are taken.

    The localism approach is likely to engender more of these types of local decisions and practices that will vary from place to place even with one police or local authority area.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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    It would be a shame if some flashy lawyer used the presence of such signs to get someone off a speeding ticket. If we are going to deliver road safety messages then they too need to conform to road traffic law.

    Dave, Leeds
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    I will fight for many principles, but this doesn’t come high up my list. I would love to see a creditable assessment of the risk posed by these offending articles, just so that I could see it dwarfed by a risk assessment of the speed of passing vehicles where they are deployed. Let us not forget that these communities feel driven to action by the abject failure of motorists to abide by the law. Were it not so glibly propounded by some that, as long as 85% of motorists don’t feel personally at risk of harm we should simply accept the speed at which they choose to drive, no-one would need to contemplate this kind of action. In an era of scant resources I applaud anyone for trying to make a difference. Shouting objections from the sidelines is easy, but in the end that’s all it is.

    Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton
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    Just another example of poor police supervision. This must have been put forward, perhaps by a member of the public, and accepted or approved by a senior police officer, Superintendent or above, who to my mind has little knowledge of the law and therefore doesn’t know of the legislation. Also the local council who, let’s face it, don’t care about the law and unless someone complains would do nothing about it.

    bob craven Lancs
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    Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 1 page 11

    “1.20 Authorities should consider
    requiring the removal of any object
    or device erected privately on land
    adjacent to their roads which has
    the apparent or express intention of
    guiding, warning or directing road users.
    In addition, private advertisements
    should not resemble or incorporate
    prescribed traffic signs or their symbols.
    United Kingdom signs are crown
    copyright and may not be reproduced
    without permission. In no circumstances
    will the Department permit the use of
    traffic signs on advertisements at road
    side locations. When prescribed traffic
    signs are used illegally action should be
    taken to secure their removal.”

    Seems to make it clear…………

    Don, Bolton
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    Just scoop up all the bins with 30 on them and dump them on No.30’s drive – that should put a stop to this nonsense…..

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    It would be interesting to know if anyone had ever successfully challenged a FPN for speeding in a location that had these signs. I have always felt that you are on dodgy ground with these. You are essentially handing out a regulatory road sign to a member of the public. What happens if someone puts a bin out and it is the wrong side of the terminal signs? If the argument is that that they are educational then is the motorist supposed to be able to distinguish between a poster and a genuine repeater? We are continually trying to educate people about how determine the speed limit of a road by the presence of street lights and no repeaters and this seems to confuse the situation to some degree.

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    Are the wheelie bin signs “speed limit signs” or not?

    If they are, then that is surely illegal and the Police must prosecute themselves.

    Or they are not, in which case people could put “50” signs on wheelie bins on 30mph roads quite legally.

    Which is it?

    Dave Finney – Slough
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    I wonder what the reaction of the police and council would be if the illegal 30mph bin stickers were replaced with illegal 20mph bin stickers?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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