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Caught speeding? Blame the font used on the road sign

Slow road sign
Slow road sign
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Thousands of British motorists could have their speeding fines and convictions overturned, all because the wrong font was used on some electronic road signs.

Motorists who were fined for speeding on the M42 in the UK over the past six might be able to have their convictions thrown out. According to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service the font used on the road signs were too tall and too narrow to be read correctly by passing motorists.

As the speed limits on the stretch of road were variable some have questioned whether the 11,000 fixed penalty points handed out over the last six years are legal. And that’s got some lawyers believing that because the font used on the signs didn’t technically meet legal requirements all prosecutions recorded since 2006 place should be quashed.

The UK has strict guidelines enforcing the type, shape, and illumination of electronic road signs and although it is possible for different fonts to be used, these need special authorisation   This wasn’t the in place with the font used with these speed limit signs.

According to the the Highways Agency the text was both clear and easy to read by motorists but police in the area have halted current legal measures and stopped using the signs to enforce speed limits.

“We have resolved an issue relating to the font used on speeds signs on our motorways. The signs were always entirely legible and the mandatory speed limit clear. Following queries that suggested that this may not have been, we clarified the issue in November 2012.”

According to the agency it was first notified of the error in 2009 but believed that because the text was clear and there was no need to change the signs.

3 Comments

    1. Beanmimo isn’t it: ‘sorry your honour I only obey speed signs written in serif typefaces.’ Wish I knew what the fonts were though

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).