These days, quite a lot is expected of drivers: remaining courteous to others even in the midst of rush hour on jam packed roads, concentrating fully despite a wide range of distractions, paying road charges promptly, minimising environmental impact and generally sticking to the letter of the law.

All of which is fine, but the onus should not just be on the driver. There comes a point when without the right support, motorists find it tough. A case in point came from the Midlands where temporary road signs in a variable speed limit had to be replaced because they didn’t comply with regulations.

Mph numbers displayed were too narrow which meant that they were less visible than they should have been. A clear breach of policy, it has the potential to invalidate fixed penalty notices as a result.

We all know that eagle-eyed solicitors are quick to spot loopholes for the benefit of their clients, but the point I’m making is that if the Highways Agency can’t get the signage right, it’s unfair to expect drivers to follow it to the letter.  This is a very specific example of how things can conspire against motorists, but my gut feel is that it’s not isolated.

Roads in poor condition creating a hazard, unclear signage causing confusion, overzealous parking attendants ignoring a common sense approach, less street lighting reducing visibility – all things that make it more difficult to be a safe, responsible and cost-effective driver. 

I’m fully in favour of setting high standards for drivers, especially in the areas that impact safety, but those standards must be underpinned by clear policy consistently executed. If conditions aren’t right, it’s unfair to expect peak performance from motorists.