City road at nightPart-time streetlights could be invalidating 30mph speed limits and providing a legal loophole for speeding motorists, a top motoring lawyer has warned.

Kent Barrister Antony Hook told the Sevenoaks Chronicle that many roads do not actually have speed limit signs: they are legally restricted to 30mph if they have working street lights up to 200 yards apart.

Courts have, in the past, quashed convictions where streetlights have been broken, spaced too far apart or been illuminative the pavement instead of the road.

“It follows that there is a strong legal argument that switching off street lights can in some cases remove a speed limit and provide a defence to a person charged with speeding,” explained Hook.

Plans to use switched-off streetlights defence

Hook has revealed he plans to use the switched-off streetlights defence in upcoming court cases, to see if it is accepted in law courts. If it is, an interesting precedent could duly be set in motoring law.

“Road traffic law is very complicated and motorists should not hesitate to seek legal advice.”

The law, as outlined by government legislation, is clear: a road is a restricted road, and so limited to a 30mph speed limit, “there is provided on it a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps paced not more than 200 yards apart” (Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, Part VI, Section 81).

Where 30mph signs are absent, “a person shall not be convicted of driving a motor vehicle on the road at a speed exceeding the limit unless the limit is indicated by means of… traffic signs…” (Section 85).

In Kent, 70,000 of the area’s 120,000 streetlights have been made part time and are switched off during the early hours to save electricity. The Telegraph says that two-thirds of local councils in Britain now turn off streetlights to save cash.