74% of UK Drivers Say Foliage Obscuring Speed Limit Signs

A new study conducted by the RAC has shown that nearly 75% of drivers feel that the most likely type of sign to be covered by overgrown foliage is speeding signs. According to the poll, the 30mph sign has earned the dubious accomplishment of being the most likely to get covered by plants and trees.

The Hidden Facts

As the summer months are well underway, the survey has asked drivers what their views about foliage and road signs are, and the results uncover some hidden truths. 53% of motorists have said that the signs are frequently obscured on their travels. Furthermore, 39% say that the signs are harder to spot in winter months and only 8% report that signs aren’t an issue at all. Unfortunately, 42% of drivers who didn’t spot the signs due to foliage broke the speed limit.

Speed Signs Most Affected

The most affected type of sign has been reported to be the “red circle” signs, which are meant to tell drivers what they need to do in certain areas. 52% of drivers reported not seeing this.

The next highest offender after speed limits were signs which provided information about upcoming motorway junctions, with 66% of drivers voting this as an issue. 42% of drivers reported signs which warn about changes in road layout or warned of other hazards were equally obscured.

Concerns Over Safety

Understandably, one of the main concerns that comes from this report is safety. If motorists at junctions and roundabouts aren’t protected, then the potential for accidents goes up significantly.

More than 50% of drivers have been concerned about foliage and feel strongly that it should be maintained. Furthermore, 28% report that they pay enough in council tax to get the problems solved!

Alice Simpson is a spokesperson for RAC Breakdown and had a few thoughts to offer:

“In parks and gardens, foliage is a welcome sign of spring, but on the roads, it’s an entirely different matter if vital information like speed limit changes aren’t visible.

It’s especially concerning that speed limit signs are often the hardest to detect, and drivers are left guessing what the legal limit is before they spot a smaller repeater sign. Any amount of excessive speeding puts everyone on the roads in grave danger, especially on minor and local roads where there’s a greater number of pedestrians.

Drivers shouldn’t be left to rely on their local knowledge and navigation apps to know if there’s a change in speed limit or if a junction is approaching. And new in-car systems that normally detect road signs and display them on the dashboard are redundant if a sign isn’t visible. Of course, it’s still the motorists’ responsibility to drive at an appropriate speed, whether a road sign is visible or not.

While we realise local councils are under enormous pressure financially, we nonetheless ask them to inspect all the signs on their networks and do everything in their power to ensure they are clear and visible to drivers, as it’s these signs that can save lives.”