Never mind speeders or road hogs, now there is a new peril facing British motorists – signpost snipers. The RAC Foundation has warned of the growing phenomenon of gunmen firing at road signs at locations across Britain. Officials there say that many of the shootings are "drive by", with the guns fired from a moving vehicle. Analysis of the damaged signs reveals that a high proportion of shots are fired from the near, or passenger, side of the car.
A dossier compiled for the motoring organisation has found evidence that illegally-held handguns, high velocity rifles and shotguns are all being used in the shootings.
Philip Gomm, from the RAC Foundation, warned that it was only a matter of time before a motorist or pedestrian was killed.
"This isn't a motoring misdemeanour," he said. "This is serious criminality that endangers life and it has to be treated as such.
"The evidence is very disturbing. To learn that an irresponsible minority of drivers and their passengers, armed with guns, are touring around and shooting up signs is alarming and what is particularly worrying is the increasing use of high-velocity weapons.
"Taking potshots with shotguns is bad enough, but bullets from rifles can travel well over a mile – and still kill.
"The consequences of these projectiles hitting other motorists or indeed any member of the public hardly bears thinking about. It is only a matter of time until someone is badly hurt, or worse."
The dossier includes signs across the country – on busy commuter routes and in rural locations – damaged by shotgun blasts.
Others, such as a roundabout sign in Hampshire, reveal the potentially lethal effects of live rounds from an illegally-held .45 handgun.
Other signs have been pierced by rounds from semi-automatic 9mm pistols. Both weapons are favoured by the criminal underworld.
Another sign – in Warwickshire – has been penetrated by a large-calibre rifle round, possibly from an ex-military weapon.
The dossier was compiled for the Foundation by Matt Seiber, 54, a former Royal Marine who lives in Buckinghamshire.
He has documented shootings at more than 150 sites in the space of 18 months, after first spotting a series of bullet-holed signs in Gloucestershire.
"It is extremely worrying and sinister that you can have people going around with illegal guns and using them," he said.
"I am not concerned about damage to road signs. I am concerned about people roaming this country with guns and using them illegally.
"What is worse is the fact that they are virtually untouchable and they know it. Whatever they are testing or rehearsing for goes unseen and totally unreported and that is fundamentally wrong as well as being sinister and downright dangerous."
Mr Seiber, who is now a fleet driver trainer, says he found one sign in Leicestershire that had been attacked with a high-velocity 23mm shell from a rifle.
The Department for Transport said it would look into the findings.
Surrey Police, one of the forces which has been made aware of shootings in its area, has also offered to review the dossier.
A spokesman said: "Action will be taken if any offences are identified and we will also inform the Highways Agency, who are responsible for road sign maintenance." Source