Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Ninth Report

How problems associated with speed should be tackled

45. The evidence is that reducing speeds would bring large benefits. No one disputed that many drivers travel at inappropriate speeds in both urban and rural areas. The differences between our witnesses were about the extent to which speeds should be reduced, where they should be reduced and how. The bulk of the evidence indicated that we need to drive more slowly and reduce illegal and inappropriate speed on almost every type of road and in almost every location.

46. There are three main approaches to reducing speed which are conventionally described as enforcement, engineering and education.[79] Some measures can be implemented quickly; other changes will take many years. The approaches consist of the following:

- more effective enforcement, which can be introduced quickly;

- better engineered roads, linked to changes to speed limits and re-classified roads, which could be widely introduced throughout the country during the period of the Ten Year Plan for Transport;

- changes to car engineering and design, including in the long run the use of new technology, notably, Intelligent Speed Adaptation; and

- education, including changes to cultural attitudes to speed, which may take many years, as has the change in attitudes to drinking and driving.

47. Government can influence each of the approaches. Professor Allsop argued that "existing information is more than sufficient to underpin the initiation of policies for speed management on roads of various kinds".[80] The TRL concluded that the substantial body of knowledge on the effects of speed and facts influencing it "place Government in a strong position to drive the change required. We believe that this is now a pressing need".[81] Many agreed. Through a series of pilot projects Government has found out what types of education, enforcement and engineering measures reduce speed and casualties. We now look at what should be done.

79   All witnesses agreed that all elements were necessary to reduce speed, but the ABD and RAC argued for a different balance. The RAC believed that there should be a move away from enforcement to speed management with more emphasis on education and engineering, including the inclusion of responsible road use in the senior school curriculum (RTS 6).

The RAC called for "roads that are self-explaining where speed limits are sufficiently self-evident as to require minimal enforcement" (RTS 6). Back

80   RTS 36. Back

81   RTS 27. Back

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