South Tyneside Council has moved to assure motorists that signage to enforce safety on a key Borough gateway is adequate.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) has reinforced the Council's position that the road on the approach to the newly created bus gate from Edinburgh Road to the A194 is properly signed to inform drivers of the restrictions in place.
The junction was closed to all traffic except buses in July as part of a series of road safety measures along the A194 at its junctions with John Reid Road and Lindisfarne roundabout, where there has been a history of accidents. The £7.5m improvement scheme also included widening the roundabouts and most of the dual carriageway from two to three lanes.
Councillor Allan West, Lead Member for Housing and Transport, said: "Our absolute priority is road safety and the exit was closed to vehicles except buses to enhance safety. The restrictions also help to ease congestion and improve traffic flows at what is a very busy gateway in and out of South Shields.
"There has been some challenge following the closure of the road, with particular reference to the signage in place. However, the response from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal is further assurance for the travelling public that the bus gate at Edinburgh Road is clearly signed and complies with the requisite Department for Transport regulations.
"Motorists who do not observe the restrictions are not only risking their own safety and the safety of others but are also committing an offence."
The introduction of the bus gate was widely publicised before and during the year-long works with advanced signage also put in place ahead of the improved A194 being reopened in July. In addition to this, motorists were given a three week 'bedding in' period enabling them to become familiar with the new arrangements.
However, a number of motorists have continued to flout the rules, risking a fine, as video cameras automatically record incidents of people illegally driving in the bus gate.
Councillor West said: "As we have stated many times before, we would prefer not to be issuing any fines for traffic contraventions, but we must get the message across that exiting via Edinburgh Road at this point is both illegal and unsafe. We would encourage motorists to observe the restrictions to avoid receiving a fine."
Vehicle owners have the right to appeal to the Council if they feel the fine has been wrongly issued.
In a recent case, a further appeal was lodged with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal challenging a ticket issued by the Council on the basis that the signage at Edinburgh Road failed to meet the required legal standard. However, the TPT has upheld the Council's decision to issue the fine.
The Edinburgh Road Bus Gate is signed in accordance with the Traffic Sign Regulations and General Directions 2016, with an advance direction sign and regulatory signs at the start of the gate, as well as 'bus gate' text road markings and a continuous longitudinal line road marking.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal considers appeals against Penalty Charge Notices issued for parking, bus lane and moving traffic contraventions in England.