Thursday 22 August 2019

It is critical that election posters do not pose any road safety risks - RSA

Remember: positioning on road signs or poles can obscure important warnings signs as well as traffic lights

Election posters
Election posters

RSA Expert

Candidates in the upcoming local and European elections, and their supporters, are scrambling up poles to put up posters.

They're competing for the best positions and hoping theirs will stand out the most.

The elections take place on May 24 and regulations insist the posters can only be erected for a certain specified period before polling day.

In the case of the European parliament and local government elections, posters can be erected 30 days before the poll date, so it has been possible for them to be up since last Wednesday.

In the run-up to an election or referendum we always like to remind candidates and their workers of the need to place posters appropriately.

It is critical they are not sited in a way that is likely to pose a threat to road safety.

For starters, positioning posters on road signs or poles can obscure not only regulatory or warning traffic signs but also traffic lights.

The obvious places include junctions, road signs and roundabouts.

Some posters even mimic the layout of official road signage.

And while we can all appreciate that it's a dog-eat-dog world in terms of pole space, it's against the law to put up a notice that makes a traffic sign less visible to road users, causes confusion or obstructs the view of the road (Road Traffic Act 1961, Section 95, Subsection 14).

Then there's the whole issue of secure fastening.

We have had reports in the past from the public, usually pedestrians and cyclists, who have told us of near misses after posters have come loose and fallen off their mount and nearly striking them.

If not securely fastened, posters could pose a real risk in the event of severe weather.

This year we have written to directors of elections urging them to exercise care and common sense on the poster front.

For those who are not affiliated with any political party or maybe running as independents we are publicising the main road safety responsibilities when it comes to election posters.

We've written to city and county authorities reminding them they have the powers to enforce laws on election posters, especially if they become a road safety hazard. There's a useful guide to election and referendum posters on the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Heritage website www.dccae.ie.

It covers requirements on the positioning of posters, timelines, relevant legislation and penalties.

It's interesting to see there is a growing public mood to see us move away from the practice of putting posters up for both road safety and environmental reasons.

In fact more than 100 towns have taken the step to voluntarily ban them for the coming elections.

Places such as Castlebar, Killarney, Skibbereen, Donegal and Clondalkin are just some to have taken this progressive step.

Considering social media is supposed to be the front runner in terms of communication nowadays, it seems almost archaic to be printing, erecting and dismantling thousands of posters.

Of course, it's the army of volunteers who will be doing most of this work. If you are one remember that operating on the roadside, carries added risk. One of the ways you can address this is to park up in a safe location that's not going to cause an obstruction and wear high visibility clothing.

Any member of the public who is concerned about dangerous or inappropriately positioned posters can contact the roads department of their local authority or by using the website www.fixmystreet.ie.

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