GEM calls for councils to cut back foliage

12.00 | 22 August 2014 | | 5 comments

GEM Motoring Assist is calling on local authorities to tackle the “menace” of road signs obscured by foliage.

GEM says that obscured road signs are “at best a nuisance for drivers, and at worst can be misleading and dangerous”.

The road safety charity also highlights several cases in which prosecutions for speeding offences were successfully challenged on the grounds that a speed limit sign was obscured by foliage.

David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive, said: “Road signs provide vital orders and information for drivers, who choose their speeds and actions based on what the signs tell them. If they can’t see the signs, then their ability to make safe decisions is compromised, especially if they’re on unfamiliar roads.

“In the name of road safety, we therefore call on local authorities to organise far-reaching cutbacks of trees, bushes and branches, so that speed limit and other signs are made as clear as possible to everyone using their roads.”

GEM is also encouraging drivers to report obscured road signs to the appropriate local authority, and to remember that a limit of 30mph usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting, unless there are signs to say otherwise.


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    What about the need to cut back hedges for the HGV driver? The option for said driver is to drive closer to the white line, or over it sometimes, or have your nearside mirror smashed. If a hedge protrudes into the road then it should be cut back. As for vision, then you should drive in a way that is more defensive because anything could be around the corner including standing traffic. Less speed.

    Jason Cumberland, Nottingham
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    The cutting back of hedges is a necessity not subject to finances. Twice yearly, early before spring has sprung and in the late summer the cutters are out so they do not disturb the wildlife that lives within. So the call for them to be cut is wasted as some already have been and others will be. With harvest time its a good idea to reduce the size of hedges so that road users and farm drivers will have a better view of what’s actually on the road or/and what’s about to be driven onto the road.

    One would have thought that with the absence of speed signs (being hidden by foliage) any driver should drive on country roads in a manner of increased safety with regards to the situation that is or maybe expected on the road at that time and not place blame on the LA for their own inability to drive or ride with caution or just sensibly.

    Personally as a biker I would like more cuttings during the year so that I can (selfishly) see over the cut hedge and view what is beyond. It would make it safer for many.

    bob craven Lancs
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    In Scotland many years ago we had roadmen whose job it was to keep all these things in check, but nowadays nobody wants to take any responsibility, which should be part of the landowners job. Trafic signs are put up for a purpose to aid drivers, but if they cannot be seen they might as well not be there.

    Jim Montgomery West Midlands
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    Quite right Tina. Also, there are those who lobby for less signage and roadside clutter referring to unnecessary signs etc. but seemingly when they’re obscured by foliage suddenly they are necessary. As you say, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    I do not disagree with the need but LAs are fighting battles on all fronts, especially those linked to road safety issues, with dwindling budgets and staff levels. Those who decide how to prioritise the work have my upmost sympathy. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Tina Bracknell
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