ALMOST 100 driver were slapped with £350 fines after highways officials set a 20mph speed limit by mistake.
Despite admitting the error the fines still stand, after hundreds of motorists were caught out on the M5 just outside Bristol.
The scene of the fatal crash on the M5 outside Bristol in 2017 which caused the speed restrictions[/caption]
A speed restriction was in place in September 2017, after a fatal crash on the busy road.
But the Highways Agency now admit they wrongly set the temporary 20mph speed limit for more than 14 hours – leading to some 439 being caught by a speed camera.
And 97 were prosecuted for speeding offences after going too quickly, hours after the restriction was supposed to have been lifted.
The Agency has apologised and say steps have been taken to avoid this happening again.
One of those caught out was lorry driver Gary Richards, who drove past speed cameras at 42mph at 2.30am, 12 hours after the crash happened.
Gary, 53, from St Austell, said: “When I saw the speed limit I could not believe it. I have driven all over Europe and have never seen a 20mph speed limit on a motorway.
“I thought it had to be wrong. I thought there was no way I was being told to drive 20mph.
“I slowed down but not enough. When I got flashed it annoyed the hell out of me.
As soon as I saw the limit I knew it was wrong. I feel as though I didn’t break the law.
“I maintain that I am not guilty because the restriction should not have been in place at all.”
He pleaded guilty and was hit with four penalty points, a £350 fine and ordered to pay a £35 victim surcharge, £85 in costs – and had to shell out over over £1,000 on legal aid.
A Freedom of Information act request revealed a total of 439 offences were detected by the camera in question and of those 97 have resulted in a prosecution disposal.
Lorry driver of almost 20 years, Gary argues the fines he and 96 others received is “miscarriage of justice”.
He said: “As soon as I saw the limit I knew it was wrong. I feel as though I didn’t break the law.
“It has affected my job because now I am terrified of driving on motorways. I feel like I have received no protection at all.”
A Highways England report said: “The gravity and complexity of this incident has led to a long and ongoing learning process to help us improve how we manage such incidents.
“We have acknowledged and apologised for our error when dealing with complaints made since January.
“Had we been aware of the error at the time it occurred, we may have considered inviting Avon & Somerset Police to consider whether issuing NIPs was appropriate.”
Highways England issued Gary with an apology and a £50 goodwill gesture, which he says he rejected.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “In this case there had been a very serious incident on the M5 and the speed limit was protecting the on-road teams who were responding to it.
“If a driver believes that a speed limit has been set incorrectly, it is quick and easy to report it to us and we promise that every case is investigated.
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“However, we are also clear that drivers must drive within the signed speed limit.”
Furious motorists in Birmingham were stung after rules were changed on one key commuter street and fines brought in yesterday morning.
Almost 100 drivers were fined for speeding on the M5 after the crash[/caption]
The Mercedes box van which struck another car after crashing through the central reservation on September 16, 2017[/caption]
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