Major survey highlights danger of overgrown verges

Highways Reporters

Two out of five drivers say overgrown foliage is hiding speed limit and other warning signs and the same number feel that overgrown verges are blurring sight lines at junctions on local roads.

The findings come in a poll of more than 16,000 drivers carried out for the AA, which said obscured road signs have become more problematic in the last year.

The poll found that 42% of drivers thought sight lines at junctions were now a problem because of overgrown shrubs and long grass, while 39% said obscured direction signs due to overhanging branches were a problem.

AA president Edmund King, said ‘Drivers are becoming increasingly concerned about the upkeep of our verges, and it is clear the problem isn’t going away. Highways authorities may think reducing the number of times a hedge or a tree is trimmed throughout the year is an easy cost saving measure, but cut backs can have consequences.

‘While we strive for zero road deaths, something as simple as cutting back shrubs to improve sight lines at junctions can be the difference between seeing a vulnerable road user and not seeing them.

‘Most gardeners will be aware that vegetation has grown more aggressively this spring and summer due to the weather. But it seems pretty obvious that in some areas verge maintenance has been kicked into the long grass.’

When compared to the same question asked in 2016, most regions are performing worse than a year ago, with the East Midlands, West Midlands and South West regions being the areas with the most problematic verges and road signs.

The AA pointed to its recent investigation that found that some local authorities are reducing their verge maintenance budgets. It said an official report found that masked signs and overgrown vegetation contributed to more than 1,000 casualties including three fatalities in 2015.
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