DC Casebook: Advertisements - Motorway safety compromised by tower

A 25m-high advertisement tower has been ruled inappropriate on land adjacent to the M4 in west London following a ruling that it would undermine highway safety.

The Highways Agency pointed out that the tower would be positioned close to a slip road and an overhead gantry sign displayed speed limit and lane closure information. The agency warned that advertisements would be a further distraction to drivers at a critical point where the motorway was limited to two lanes and had no hard shoulder.

The inspector decided that the accident statistics relied on by both sides were inconclusive on the relative safety of the motorway. In his opinion, a common sense approach should be adopted. He observed that the tower would come into view suddenly on the relatively short slip road. In his view, drivers would need to be on full alert as they attempted to join the main flow of traffic.

Paragraph 1, annex B of Circular 3/2007 calls for care to be taken in siting advertisements that would cause undue distraction where local conditions present particular hazards, he noted. The proximity of the gantry sign also meant that drivers would need to assimilate information quickly on traffic conditions, he found. The scheme was unacceptable on safety grounds, he concluded.

DCS Number 100-064-516

Inspector Simon Hand; Hearing

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