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


    (a)  Illegal and inappropriate speed is a major contributory factor in crashes and casualties in both urban and rural areas (paragraph 14).

    (b)  Speed may kill more and seriously injure many more people than has commonly been thought. The health service should play a more active part in the collection of data on injuries, and should be funded to do this (paragraph 15).

    (c)  The full cost to the nation of road traffic accidents is very large; a DTLR study has estimated it to be £17 bn in a single year. If drivers travelled at lower and more appropriate speeds, the savings to society would be immense, as the savings to individuals would be. If the measures recommended in this Report were to achieve a reduction of road traffic accidents by a third, the savings to society could be as great as £100 million per week (paragraph 16).

    (d)   Most deaths of car occupants take place on rural roads, but most crashes and pedestrian deaths in urban areas. Compared with several other European countries our child pedestrian death rate is high. Speed causes major health inequalities, especially in urban areas; child pedestrians who live in deprived areas are particularly at risk from road traffic (paragraph 21).

    (e)  There are serious indirect health effects of inappropriate traffic speed. Fast-moving traffic plays a part in discouraging physical activity by inhibiting walking and cycling in urban and rural areas. We recommend an increase in the number of dedicated cycle routes. Moreover, vehicles travelling at speed are noisy, sever communities and undermines urban regeneration (paragraph 30).

    (f)  Pedestrian railings, barriers and staggered crossings are designed to maintain traffic flows and restrict pedestrian movement. They do not deal with the root of the problem which is that traffic is sometimes moving too quickly. The Government has failed to change this situation; it must advocate a policy which does not create urban areas where cars can speed and pedestrians are corralled behind barriers, but rather places where pedestrians can walk safely because traffic speeds have been reduced. The proposed guidance from Government on designing "pedestrian-friendly environments" should reflect this policy (paragraph 31).

    (g)  The groups most likely to speed excessively are those driving in a work related capacity, members of high income households and your males. Motorcyclists are also a serious problem, and HGV drivers commonly exceed the 40 mph limit on single carriageway main roads (paragraph 35).

    (h)  The combination of bad road design, driver ignorance and a belief that speeding is acceptable must be tackled if speeds are to be reduced to safe levels (paragraph 44).

    (i)  Guidelines should allow local decisions to be taken to site cameras in locations where such a risk has been identified (paragraph 59).

    (j)  In the pilot project areas the Safety Camera Scheme has been very successful, bringing about a big reduction in crashes and casualties. If police force areas have not joined the Safety Camera Scheme by the end of 2004, the Government should consider making it mandatory (paragraph 60).

    (k)  The new rules about the visibility and location of cameras are unreasonable. Crashes do not just occur at accident blackspots. There was no scientific research to support this decision. People will die as a result. Police and local authorities should decide where to locate cameras and whether they should be visible. Their decisions be should informed by pilot projects to [1] test whether safety cameras should be overt or covert and [2] identify a series of locations other than severe accident blackspots where the speed of traffic needs to be reduced. The Department of Health should be on the Project Board for the Safety Camera Scheme to ensure that public health issues are fully taken into account in the decisions it makes (paragraph 60).

    (l)   Safety cameras are of little use in catching or deterring drivers travelling at inappropriate speeds or unlicensed drivers. Moreover, cameras paid for under the scheme can only be used at severe accident blackspots. The Police must ensure that there are adequate numbers of traffic police to deter:

- inappropriate speed;

- unlicensed drivers; and

- drivers who speed at places away from the accident blackspots where cameras will be located.

There should be no further reduction in the numbers of traffic police (paragraph 63).

    (m)  Existing penalties for speeding are inadequate. The Home Office's dilatoriness in implementing the proposals in its Consultation Paper on road traffic penalties issued 18 months ago is unacceptable. We recommend that the proposals in the Consultation Paper be implemented without delay. There should be legislation in the next session of Parliament (paragraph 67).

    (n)  We recommend that the Home Office and Lord Chancellor's Department issue clearer guidance about the use of magistrates' discretion in "exercising special reasons not to disqualify" (paragraph 68).

    (o)  The Government should publish as a priority revised Guidance to local authorities on setting local speed limits and principles for speed management. The Guidance should also offer information on the range of interventions available to local authorities to act as preventative measures in advance of crashes and injuries occurring. Local authorities should subsequently be guided by a national framework for determining appropriate vehicle speeds on roads and by a new hierarchy of roads defined by their function and quality in urban and rural areas (paragraph 73).

    (p)  We recommend that the following guidance on speed limits be issued to local authorities (paragraph 75).

Proposed guidance to local authorities re speed limits for cars


Type of Road



20 mph

Many residential areas, some mixed routes, vicinity of schools

vicinity of schools

30 mph

Main roads


40 mph

Major outer urban roads

'C' and Unclassified roads*

50 mph

Poorer quality 'A' and 'B' roads

60 mph

Good quality single carriageway 'A' roads

70 mph

Dual carriageway

*Some current 'C' roads should become 'B' roads

    (q)  Repeat signs should be permitted in 30 mph zones where the speed limit is not apparent from the design of the road or cannot be enforced by traffic calming. The 'derestricted' sign should be relaced by a sign indicating what the speed limit is (paragraph 79).

    (r)  The Government should encourage local authorities to make more use of 20 mph zones, enforced by suitable engineering measures. The measures should be area wide to avoid displacement. They should concentrate on accident prevention and improving the quality of life, and should not be only introduced as an ad hoc response to serious crashes (paragraph 81).

    (s)  We recommend that the Government publish the results of the home zone pilot projects as soon as possible. If successful, the Government should fund them and support their widespread introduction (paragraph 82).

    (t)  Following the success of the Gloucester 'Safer City Project', the Government should ensure that similar projects are introduced into towns and cities throughout the country (paragraph 83).

    (u)  Many of the most dangerous urban roads have to be used by both pedestrians and motor vehicles. Guidance to local authorities should recommend that particular care is taken to ensure that these routes are suitably engineered to enforce the speed limit. The Government must now establish the 'Urban Road Hierarchy' which it promised in its Road Safety Strategy in March 2000 (paragraph 84).

    (v)  We recommend that guidance to local authorities indicate that a 20 mph limit should be the norm in the vicinity of schools in urban and rural areas during the day on week days, though they should have ability to vary the limits at other times (paragraph 85).

    (w)  Guidance to local authorities on speed limits should recommend that there be a 30 mph limit in villages. Appropriate measures should be taken by the local authority in consultation with the villagers to ensure the limit is obeyed. They should also decide which settlements are villages (paragraph 89).

    (x)  We recommend that guidance to local authorities indicate that 40 mph be the speed limit on C and Unclassified roads. Research should be undertaken into the best ways of enforcing such a limit. Some of the better quality wider C and Unclassified (where a higher speed is appropriate) might be reclassified as B roads. If a 40 mph limit were introduced on minor roads it may be possible to increase the limit for HGVs on A and B roads from the present 40 mph (paragraph 90).

    (y)  Guidance to local authorities should include advice about which types of single carriageway main roads should have a 60 mph limit and which the lower 50 mph limit. The sign which currently indicates the national speed limit should be scrapped; road signs should indicate what the actual speed limit is (paragraph 91).

    (z)  The Government should now make every effort to introduce the Rural Road Hierarchy it promised over two years ago. There are fewer examples of good practice in rural than in urban areas: there should be pilot projects in rural areas comparable to the Gloucester Safer City project (paragraph 92).

    (aa)  The Government should make it easier for local authorities to make changes to the speed limit on roads. It should introduce a simplified procedure for making speed limit orders (paragraph 95).

    (bb)  The Government should ensure that guidelines should not be in a form that discourages local authorities from taking appropriate decisions to reflect local circumstances (paragraph 96).

    (cc)  In 1997 the TRL estimated that a comprehensive package of traffic calming measures in urban areas would cost £3bn. We recommend that this estimate be updated and that an estimate be made of the cost of measures to reduce casualties in rural areas be undertaken with a view to providing the funds in the Ten Year Plan. We note that the sum is likely to be less than the funds proposed for safety improvements on the railways, but spending it would save many, many more lives than are lost on the railways every year. Safety should be a priority for all modes of transport (paragraph 97).

    (dd)   We recommend that type approval for speedometers be amended so as to provide for designs which make drivers more aware of the 30 mph speed limit. We also urge the industry to develop further use of digital speedometers to ensure that more accurate information is given to drivers (paragraph 99).

    (ee)  In the long run Intelligent Speed Adaption offers the opportunity to put an end to illegal and inappropriate speed. The Government should strongly support this technology by:

- continuing to fund research, including the projected trials from 2002 to 2006;

- encouraging voluntary adoption by fleet managers and providing tax incentives to those who do;

- establishing a Europe-wide requirement that all new vehicles sold from 2013 should have an ISA capability; and

- fund the development of a digital road map to ensure that the information needed to make ISA successful is easily available (paragraph 103).

    (ff)  Better publicity and education must play a part in reducing speeds together with more effective enforcement and engineering. We recommend that the Government:

- establish a comprehensive, all-the-year-round publicity campaign, using the television and other media, and co-ordinated with the National Safety Camera Scheme;

- establish campaigns targeted at specific groups;

- ensure that local partnerships support enforcement and traffic calming measures with education campaigns

- ensure that schemes like the 'speed diversionary workshops' in Northamptonshire be copied through out the country if they prove to be successful;

- make speed-related hazards a part of the hazard perception tests to be introduced in the driving test (paragraph 112).

    (gg)  The effect of widely applying well-researched and understood measures to improve enforcement, engineering and education would produce very impressive result both in reducing lives and transforming the quality of life of millions of people. Even spreading best practice to all parts of country would have an enormous effect. Many of the very high total of deaths and serious injuries to which inappropriate speed contributes could be avoided. Total deaths could be reduced to under 1,000 per year. The Government's target of reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured by 40% could easily be exceeded. However, progress to date is slow, and the Government's new rules about the location of safety cameras threaten to undermine this target (paragraph 115).

    (hh)  The failure to take road safety in general and speed in particular seriously has important effects. We would have expected campaigns to be mounted to reduce so tragic and avoidable form of death and serious injury. There are many opportunities for all parts of the media to do this; unfortunately, some elements in the press do the reverse: they rail against the very measures designed to reduce speed and save lives. The evidence to this inquiry shows that there are serious concerns about the link between motor industry advertising and journalism. We are also concerned that the BBC has done so little to promote road safety in pursuance of its general public service obligation (paragraph 130).

    (ii)  However, during this inquiry we have had no opportunity to put the criticisms we have received to representatives of the media or the motor industry. These issues need to be considered in more detail. We hope that the new Transport Committee will investigate them (paragraph 131).

    (jj)  A few local authorities have taken very effective measures which have saved lives and led to major improvements in the quality of life. Others, however, have done much less. All should aim to reach the standards which the best have now achieved. Local authorities do face funding difficulties: there are too few revenue funds (which means that are too few skilled staff) and too many obstacles to getting cost-effective schemes approved. Although it is insufficient for the programme outlined by the TRL in 1997, there is more capital available than before. The principal problem is that too few councils have made road safety and speed reduction a priority (paragraph 140).

    (kk)  The Association of Chief Police Officers has shown an impressive commitment to tackling road traffic speed. Unfortunately, not all police authorities have given it the same priority. The Home Office must make it very clear to all of them that road traffic policing is a priority. The Metropolitan Police was singled out for criticism for its disregard of this important aspect of policing. We recommend that the Greater London Authority review the Metropolitan Police's approach to traffic policing as a priority (paragraph 144).

    (ll)  The Government should not have accepted the European Commission's decisions to introduce a voluntary scheme rather than a Pedestrian Directive. The voluntary scheme must now be carefully monitored. If it has not been successful by 2005, the Government should press the European Commission to introduce a Directive (paragraph 149).

    (mm)  Many who live in villages on the Highways Agency's road network endure intolerable conditions. The Agency has made some progress in introducing traffic calming and 30 mph limits, but it has been very slight and very slow. Too few traffic calming schemes have been installed. Insufficient account is given to the severance of communities and the quality of life in assessing the introduction of both schemes and 30 mph limits. The Agency should now establish a programme for installing 30mph limits and attendant speed reduction measures in all villages along its network (paragraph 152).

    (nn)  Crashes which occur while drivers are working are very common, and deaths caused in this way are probably the largest single cause of work-related fatalities. The HSC would be negligent if it failed to extend its activities to this most important safety issue. The fact that it would cost money is not an excuse for ignoring it. If it does not do so, the Government must demand that it reconsiders the matter. It must provide the money to ensure that the HSE can employ the necessary staff. Clearer guidance to employers on managing road risk is urgently needed. We recommend that the Transport Committee investigates this in more detail (paragraph 156).

    (oo)  If any other activity were to cause as many deaths and injuries as car crashes, it would be treated with much more concern and much more vigorous action would be taken. The Department of Health and health authorities should:

- take road safety and speeding more seriously as a public health issue, and encourage public health officers to do so as well;

- take a lead in major Government publicity campaigns to promote responsible attitudes to speeding; and promote such attitudes in GP surgeries and hospitals;

In addition,

- partnerships should be established locally between local authorities, police authorities, magistrates and primary care trusts and other health organisations;

- a national road accident database of the type already working in Cambridge.

- in preparing Local Transport Plans, local authorities should consult public health departments and primary care trusts, seeking their opinions on the plans at an early stage of preparation; they should also ensure that health improvement programmes are linked with Local Transport Plans.

- the Department of Health should be represented on the National Safety Camera Project Board (paragraph 161).

    (pp)  There must be better co-ordination between Government Offices and local authorities, regional planning bodies, and health professionals; and between the Government Offices in the Regions and the DTLR's Local Transport Plan Division and Road Safety Division (paragraph 162).

    (qq)  There also needs to be very significant improvements in the co-ordination between speed management strategies and the Regional Economic Strategies of the RDAs and Regional Planning Guidance (paragraph 163).

    (rr)  We recommend that the Home Office emphasise that road traffic policing is a priority and that the National Policing Plan contain a commitment to that effect. The best value indicator relating to traffic policing should be retained (paragraph 169).

    (ss)  Local authorities rightly cherish their independence, but this should not extend to neglecting road safety: saving lives should not be a matter for discretion (paragraph 170).

    (tt)  The Government should establish a National Speed Management Strategy which should:

- highlight the effect of decreases in speed on reducing casualties;

- set targets for reductions in speeds by local authority;

- publish examples of success and good practice, and take measures to get them adopted;

- establish a programme to change attitudes, including misinformation from the press; seek a more responsible attitude to speeding from the media, advertisers and motor manufacturers; and provide a much larger publicity budget to encourage safer driving;

- involve Government, highway authorities, police, and motoring organisations in developing the strategy, and

- publish a regular report on success in implementing the measures set out in its document, New Directions in Speed Management (March 2001) (paragraph 171)

    (uu)  Road safety should be given a higher priority in the Ten Year Plan. The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that £3bn would be adequate to make urban roads safer by major changes to their design. This sum will no longer be sufficient. The Department of Transport should now estimate the total amount which needs to be spent on safety measures. This should be specifically identified in the Ten Year Plan. The DTLR should provide funds for further demonstration projects, including Safety City Projects in each region of the country, and similar projects in rural areas.[252] (Paragraph 172).

    (vv)  The Government should insist that all local authorities introduce Speed Management Plans which give priority to pedestrians in urban and rural areas. If local authorities do not introduce schemes to deal with speed, best practices should apply (paragraph 173).

    (ww)  There has to be a consistent approach from the whole of Government, including DTLR, the Home Office, the DfES, the DTI and the Department of Health. Road safety must be a central part of the many strategies which these Departments are drawing up (paragraph 174).

    (xx)  Finally, and most importantly, the Government needs to give political leadership (paragraph 175).

252   The DTLR already provides: to encourage an expansion of 20mph zones (£3.5m) home zones (£30m fund) and to fund five demonstration projects to improve safety on mixed priority urban routes (5.5m). Back

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