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A speed limit is unenforceable without clear signing of the speed limit. S85 RTRA demands that the authorities erect signs which give the motorist ‘adequate guidance’ of the speed limit. It used to be thought that ‘adequate guidance’ meant total compliance with the requirements and any imperfection could be used to escape liability. There had been support for that proposition in earlier case law. The case of Coombes was helpful to the motorist.But the recent appeal of Peake has severely restricted this point. The Court in that case decided that all that need be asked is whether there is sufficient compliant signing such that any motorist travelling at excess speed at the point of enforcement will have been given ‘adequate guidance’ of the speed limit.
Inadequacy of road signing remains a proper challenge to the prosecution. Traffic signs are regularly badly maintained. Peake has added a further hurdle for the defence to overcome but it can be done. The test is now twofold. Firstly, the deficiencies must exist. Secondly, they must be such as to weaken the ‘adequate guidance’ given to the motorist of the speed limit.