Examination of Witnesses (Questions 295-299)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
295. Can I welcome you to the third session
this morning. Can I ask you to identify yourselves for the record,
(Mr Mathew) Don Mathew, Vice-Chairman, Slower Speeds
(Dr Davis) Adrian Davis, author of "Killing Speed",
a good practice guidebook submitted to the inquiry.
(Ms Mitchell) Paige Mitchell, co-ordinator of the
Slower Speeds Initiative.
296. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction
or are you happy to go straight to questions?
(Mr Mathew) I will say a few words, good
morning to you and your members. The Initiative, as is outlined
in first paragraph of our evidence, is a coalition of environmental,
pedestrian, cyclists and community groups. On that I am the representative
of Sustrans as we have an interest in those matters. Sustrans
also has an interest in the Ten Year Plan and you have kindly
called us to give evidence on that. The Initiative was formed
to put speed on the policy agenda but our mission has, to some
extent, been sidetracked by the extraordinary amount of requests
we have had for help from individuals and communities throughout
the land. I understand that some of these people and communities
have also written to this Committee. I do commend their testimony,
I think it is powerful and eloquent testimony of the general public
and conditions on the ground. Briefly, I think these responses
and the responses that we have had fall into three, firstly that
peoples' lives are blighted and threatened by speeding traffic.
Secondly, disappointingly, with some exceptions, the powers that
be, such as the police and the highway authorities, the Home Office
and to some extent the DTLR often seem uninterested or not particularly
helpful. Third, most worrying of all, little or no action seems
to happen until members of the community are actually killed or
seriously injured. The Initiative believes this is a deplorable
state of affairs. We believe, firstly, the DTLR should make much
more resources available for safety schemes. Two, the DTLR should
introduce a wide range of pilot projects to hasten innovation.
Three, this country should move to a default speed of 20 mph in
urban areas. Four, we should develop a speed assessment framework
derived from the European Master Project and incorporating a road
danger reduction approach. Fifthly, and lastly, the Home Office
must be do more, much more, to link road safety with other key
government objectives, including the welfare of children, social
inclusion, urban regeneration, better health and, of course, integrated
Chairman: Thank you very much.
297. Can I start by playing Devil's advocate,
you are claiming in your submission that huge reductions can be
achieved by concentrating on speed and only about one third of
accidents have speed nominated as a contributory factor. How do
you respond to that?
(Mr Mathew) I will ask our co-ordinator to respond
in a moment. In our view much of this is a mis-reading of the
TRL Report 323, where we see that in virtually every instance
of contributory factors speed is involved, even if it is not "the
major factor" it is certainly a contributory factor. When
we also consider that driver error contributes to about 90 per
cent of casualty incidents we feel that the one third figure is
(Ms Mitchell) The first thing to say is that we need
proper empirical studies. We have very good evidence from TRL
on a statistical basis that speed is very closely correlated with
crashes and clearly as speed goes up the severity of crashes goes
up and they have borne out that for every mile an hour reduction
in speed you get between two per cent and seven per cent reduction
298. Can you speak up a little?
(Ms Mitchell) However, if we look at areas where we
have introduced speed reduction measures, whether those are cameras
or physical measures, traffic calming, and got speeds to the enforceable
limit casualties tend to go down much more, and you heard some
of that evidence this morning, with figures of 50 per cent and
over. We think that the figures could be much higher and what
we need to have is properly controlled trials of properly enforced
current speed limits and reduced speed limits to see by how much
we do reduce casualties
299. I think it is accepted that the faster
a vehicle goes the more damage is done, if vehicles did not go
fast at all there would be no damage done. The concept is quite
clear. In Gloucestershire they found that 60 per cent of pedestrian
accidents were caused by misjudgment, pedestrians entering the
carriageway without due care and 23 per cent of pedestrians were
completely blameless. That is what their research found. I would
like you to respond to that?
(Dr Davis) If I may respond to that. Ultimately the
Initiative takes the view that pedestrians should not have to
bear the brunt of, maybe, misjudgments in their own behaviour.