Woman has driving fine overturned after court rules too many road signs are ‘confusing drivers’ brains’

Woman has driving fine overturned after court rules too many road signs are ‘confusing drivers’ brains’
Woman has driving fine overturned after court rules too many road signs are ‘confusing drivers’ brains’

A woman who was fined for driving through a bus gate in Chelmsford has won her appeal after successfully arguing that there were simply too many road signs for the brain to process.

Dr Bernadine King – a psychologist, who has published a number of academic papers on how people process visual information – said the bus gate was “endangering lives.”

According to a BBC report, Essex County Council has collected £1.5m in fees after more than 54,000 drivers were fined for using the Chelmsford bus gate in an 18 month period.

The Council stated that the number of people attempting to access the gate had dropped by over three quarters.

“Inadequate” signage

A tribunal quashed Dr King’s penalty charge notice (PCN), which was issued in November, ruling that the existing signage was “inadequate.”

Following a visit to the site, the traffic penalty adjudicator noted that although some of the signs by the bus gate were large and easily visible, they were “cluttered”, meaning that “drivers could be confused.”

Read more: Quiz: how well do you know your road signs?

“Once you’re committed to turn left on Duke Street, you have no way of safely turning around,” Dr King said.

“Drivers are being trapped in the area and they’re panicking.

More signage ahead of the entrance to the bus gate

“There are so many signs by the bus gate but a little contradiction in the brain means we cannot absorb all the information,” she said.

“A blight on Chelmsford”

“To consciously process all the information, it may take a few seconds and by that point, you’ve already travelled 20ft or 30ft down the road.”

Dr King has now called on the council to conduct a safety review of the bus gate, which she described as “a blight on Chelmsford.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “Before turning on enforcement cameras in 2017, we increased signage at all junctions, sent more than 3,000 warning notices and painted the words “BUS GATE” in five-foot high letters on the road at both entrances to help make drivers aware of the restrictions.”

The spokesperson maintained that all money generated by fines was “reinvested to help improve public transport, roads and the transport network across Essex”.