“What’s the story with the markings on the Evesham Bypass? Can you overtake in them or not?”
Well the short answer is yes, as long you make sure as it’s safe, just like any other overtaking manoeuvre.
Read on for the long answer:
Those markings are called “Hatch Markings” – and are defined as Diagram 1040 within the The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions
(For any road sign to be legally valid in England and Wales it has to be listed in, and also meet the requirements of the TSRGD.
The definition of the markings is shown in the diagram and text below straight from the regulations.
“Diagram 1040 – Part of the carriageway which vehicular traffic should not enter unless it is seen by the driver to be safe to do so”
The legal basis for Drivers to obey Road Signs comes from Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988
The key part is
“Drivers to comply with traffic signs.
(1) Where a traffic sign, being a sign—
(a) of the prescribed size, colour and type, or
(b) of another character authorised by the Secretary of State under the provisions in that behalf of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984,
has been lawfully placed on or near a road, a person driving or propelling a vehicle who fails to comply with the indication given by the sign is guilty of an offence.”
Diagram 1040 is not listed as a Section 36 sign, therefore it cannot be an offence not to comply with it. (Although what you’d not be complying with as the only requirement is ‘safe to do so’ I’m not sure)
(For those interested in what signs are listed as Section 36 enforceable signs the list from the 2002 Regulations is here, there’s not an easily link for the 2016 regs,)
What about if I hit someone coming the other way or had a ‘near miss’
Then the offence is Dangerous Driving, Careless Driving, or driving without due care, in exactly the same way as if that happened if you were overtaking on someone across single broken lines.
What does the Essential Skills say?
“Where the boundary line is broken, you should not drive on the markings unless you can see that it is safe to do so”
What does the Highway Code say?
Rule 130 – If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so.”
Interestingly the highway code seems to have added the word “necessary”, which appears no-where in the TSRGD and isn’t a legal requirement, other than “the failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, the Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability“. (i.e. if you did hit something and even then it still might not be an issue)
Why are they there then?
In order to ‘discourage’ overtaking – You see originally the Evesham Bypass just had centre lines, it being quite a wide and fast road people used to overtake – often in both directions at the same time – 4 cars abreast wasn’t uncommon. As traffic increased this led to a number of collisions, even a single vehicle, one once into the lamp post on the Badsey Road crossing!
They can’t just put double white lines down the middle or hatch markings with a solid white line, as there are certain requirements in the TSRGD manuals mainly relating to viability, to stop councils sticking them everywhere willy-nilly. As most people don’t have a clue what hatch markings mean they tend not to drive in them anyway.
I’ve also noticed they tend to have a psychological effect, in that for some reason when the lanes appear narrower, people are less likely to overtake despite the overall road being the same width as it was before.
Note – If there was a solid white line instead of a dashed white line along the edge, then this is something totally different and you only enter the area in an emergency – Rule 165 Highway Code : You MUST NOT overtake, if you would have to enter an area designed to divide traffic, if it is surrounded by a solid white line.
Only, that if you do overtake you need to ensure that no-one coming the other way is thinking of doing the same thing (i.e. ensure it’s safe to do so)- The classic ‘lurker’ behind the lorry springs to mind.
You see they’ll also be looking to drive along the hatching, which are now effectively what we used to call a ‘suicide lane‘, whereas before it was usually wide enough.
Also on roads where the hatching area isn’t used by traffic very often you’ll quite often get detritus and grit building up it.
Oh another Evesham tip:- The rat run via the Car Park into Merstow Green, is contrary to “The Wychavon District Council (Off-Street Parking Places) (Consolidation) Order 2004”, which one of the states “No person shall use a parking place as a means of passage or of proceeding from one road to another road”