Tuesday 23 May 2017

Give Number One vote to safety when it comes to election posters

Our RSA expert highlights what is likely be a growing problem over the coming months

Though these signs are legal, election posters can be hazardous.
Though these signs are legal, election posters can be hazardous.

The starting gun may not have gone off officially for the general election, but already I've noticed election posters for candidates appearing at the road side.

One that's located on the approach to a local roundabout is a big one too.

I'm talking six-foot wide, by four-foot high, and supported by a robust wooden frame.

I thought there was a rule that election posters could only be erected within a certain timeframe before an election?

Well, a quick check of the Department of the Environment's website confirms that posters may only be erected either:

(a) 30 days before the poll date or - (b) from the date the polling day order for the election has been made, whichever provides the shorter period of time.

However, as neither the poll date nor the polling day order has been made, some candidates appear to have jumped the gun.

The department clarifies that any election posters in place before the stipulated timeframe are deemed to be in breach of legislation.

That means they could be subject to an on-the-spot litter fine of €150.

Local authorities are also responsible for removing posters which, in their opinion, constitute a hazard to either pedestrians or other road users.

If this election is like the last I expect that we will be inundated with emails and phone calls from members of the public.

I expect they will express concerns about the positioning of posters on road signs or on poles that obscure traffic signs or traffic lights.

Distraction

And posters that are a clear distraction to road users - especially at major junctions.

So, before election fever truly grips the nation, and the posters start appearing like an outbreak of measles on the road side, it's probably worth reminding Directors of Elections, and their teams of election workers to take extra care when erecting posters.

It really is essential that road safety is a top priority when siting those posters.

The signage on our roads - whether by the National Roads Authority, local authorities, gardaí or construction and road-repair teams - is there to ensure the safety of all road users.

Campaign posters should not be placed in a way that distracts road users, obscures vision or road signs in any way. This is particularly important at traffic junctions and roundabouts.

It is an offence to erect any sign or notice that makes a traffic sign less visible to road users. For anyone interested the relevant legislation is Road Traffic Act 1961, Section 95, Subsection 14.

But the Act also gives local authorities the power to take action to deal with obstructions that impede the clear visibility of traffic signs. And we would encourage anyone concerned about dangerous or inappropriately positioned election posters, when they do start to appear, to contact their local authority to have them removed.

The final word must go to election candidates themselves. Please ensure your army of volunteers who are putting up these posters are safe when working at the road side. It is vital that campaign workers do not place themselves or others at risk when erecting or dismantling posters. At the very least make sure they are wearing a hi-viz jacket so they can be seen.

Irish Independent

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