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Regulations on Plants Blocking View of Highway?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 30 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Roundabouts Visibility Roundabout

Q.

Are there any regulations the local highways department should comply with on a safety aspect with regard to planting flowers and shrubs at access points to and in the centre of the roundabout?

This causes inability to see any vehicles using the roundabout.

(Mr Roy Jones, 28 September 2008)

A.

Approaching and entering a roundabout can be difficult as you have to check what is happening on the roundabout, to your right (depending on how close to you the next exit is), and what the driver of the car in front is up to. Because of this, roundabouts have long been an accident hotspot because motorists often see the car in front of them start to move off, then they check right to see what is approaching, and then move onto the roundabout without realising that the driver in front has reconsidered, and applied the brakes. The next thing they know they're involved in an accident.

But if that wasn't enough, there has been concern over recent years that motorists approaching roundabouts have been further hampered by overgrown bushes, trees, shrubs, flowers and exotic sculptures and designs, which cannot only distract drivers, but can prove dangerous if visibility is compromised and they can't see who or what is approaching the roundabout.

Regarding legality, the Highway Code doesn't specify any particular reference to being able to see approaching traffic from the other side of the roundabout. What it does say is that motorists should slow down, look to the right for approaching traffic, and adjust their speed accordingly. The inference we can take from this is that if motorists do this, then shrubs and bushes shouldn't have any impact on their driving ability.

However, there is a set of standards - the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' (DETR) design standards, which set out rules including those surrounding visibility. They determine that a driver waiting to enter a roundabout should be able to see the whole junction and the entry lane to the right that vehicles will join from. Councils use these guidelines as a standard, and where possible, should try to give drivers the best possible visibility.

Many councils also employ their own design standards, to comply with their own Health and Safety regulations, so if you feel that there is a roundabout that suffers from negative visibility, or needs some attention, then you should write to your local council and advise them.

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