Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by West Yorkshire Transport 2000 (RTS 01)

  I am replying in response to the consultation on Slower Speeds on behalf of West Yorkshire Transport 2000.

  Although the consultation is not in a question and answer format, I have for clarity labelled the issues raised by the committee as "Q" and my responses as "A". Not all points responded to.

  Q.  The role of illegal and inappropriate speed in respect of:

    causing crashes, and the severity of accidents;

  A.  There is a great deal of controversy as to whether speed is a cause of accidents. What cannot be denied is that drivers are human beings, and therefore from time to time will make errors.

    —  At higher speeds there is less time to make adjustments for error, therefore a crash is more likely.

    —  The laws of physics dictate that the amount of energy to be dissipated rises with the square of speed, consequently crashes at high-speed are very much more damaging than those at lower speeds.

Neither of these points is intuitive.

  Q.  The role of illegal and inappropriate speed in respect of:

    reducing the quality of life in urban areas;

    and the consequences of illegal and inappropriate speed for urban design

  A.  High-speed traffic causes many problems for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. It causes danger, fear, noise and severance.

  When I go to catch my local bus, if I am going westbound I have to cross the road. I cannot cross directly because of the speed of the traffic (40 mph +), it is impossible to make a safe and accurate assessment. This is despite the fact it is a 30mph zone. Consequently, I have to walk to the nearest pelican crossing, which more than doubles the length of my journey to the bus stop.

  Waiting at the bus-stop could be a pleasurable activity as I could be passing quality time talking to my wife. However, this is impossible because of the traffic noise and this adds to the perceived disadvantage of travelling by bus. Fortunately, once I am on the bus the experience is good as Keighley and District Travel provide quiet new buses with Institute of Advanced Motorist trained drivers.

  Once I arrive at my destination, either central Bradford or central Keighley I am again oppressed by a realistic fear of injury or worse by road traffic and the noise is unpleasant.

    —  These conditions apply to almost all bus users. Walkers & cyclists suffer similar danger & environmental insult.

  Q.  The role of illegal and inappropriate speed in respect of:

  The availability and reliability of research on the consequences of, and reasons for, illegal and inappropriate speed, and in particular, the reasons for the very high pedestrian casualty rate;

  A.  —

  Q.  The extent to which the problems associated with speed should be tackled by: better enforcement; road re-design and traffic calming; road re-classification; physical measures to separate pedestrians and cars (eg barriers); technology (eg through Intelligent Speed Adaptation and car designs which promote pedestrian protection); education to improve drivers' and motor cyclists' behaviour and pedestrian and cyclist awareness;

  A.  Institute of Advanced Motorist training claims a 75 per cent reduction in accidents. Speed cameras have been shown to be effective (50 per cent reduction in areas where fines have been recycled to provided better coverage) and on-vehicle speed limits would be even more effective

  It is always possible that better driving skills may be used to drive faster or take more risks, thus negating the beneficial impact of the training. For this reason, attitudes need to be addressed. To this end I believe that all drivers should be required to periodically watch a video where somebody who has been bereaved or permanently injured by a road accident talks about their feelings. The drivers should then be required to discuss this with other people. There have been many good examples of suitable video clips on some of the BBC and ITV programmes about road safety and driving standards.

  There would be important knock-on benefits from the training of drivers at work. If the majority of drivers were properly trained, cycling and walking would be much safer, more attractive and more popular. This would lead directly to accident reduction. Also if drivers were driving within the speed limit at all times, they would often find walking or cycling more attractive for short journeys. Furthermore, buses and trains would seem more attractive for many longer journeys, as the walk to the station or bus stop would be more acceptable.

  Additionally, if the majority of drivers were trained to drive properly, the police could clamp down on the minority of incorrigibly bad drivers without fear of creating a backlash or being seen as anti-motorist.

  Many young unskilled people take up driving jobs, as it is easy for them to get jobs as couriers, minicab drivers, "white van" drivers etc. The strong competitive pressure to deliver the work combined with the inexperience of young drivers has given many of these jobs a well-deserved notoriety.


  In the past speed and convenience for motorists has been prioritised. Road design should prioritise safety and convenience for walkers and cyclists.


  In my experience of workplace related safety, technology was always used to override human behaviour wherever this was relevant. Generally speaking, guards and other safety equipment were mandatory and could not be ignored for reasons of convenience or whim. I think that it is extremely important to use technology to increase road safety, particularly for work-related driving. While the technology would be an expensive upfront cost there would be long-term savings in accident reduction and reduced insurance. There are several technologies that are now available, which could be integrated to give safety standards similar to rail and air travel.

  Commercial vehicles, including cars used for work, should require a smart card reader which only allows authorised drivers to use the vehicle. This smart card could be the driver's licence and insurance certificate. This would prevent theft and so-called joyriding. It would also allow the enforcement of driving bans and ensure that the vehicle is properly insured. Many young drivers work as minicab or van drivers before they have even passed the driving test or acquired a licence. This is very dangerous, but is attractive to unscrupulous firms who wish to cut costs.

  Global positioning satellite technology (GPS) combined with the computer could give intelligent speed control of the vehicle. Speeding would be impossible. The computer would also act as an intelligent tachograph. Drivers could not be forced to work unreasonable hours. Journey planning guidance could be automatically given to the driver. This would improve safety. Additionally their driving could be monitored to improve safety, assess training needs etc.

  There would be several other financial benefits, including improved fuel consumption, reduced wear-and-tear, other management and financial information. However there would be an upfront heavy investment cost but in the longer term industry would benefit from lower insurance, reduced congestion and accidents. It may be appropriate for government to give grant aid where companies were seriously committed to improved safety and reduced pollution.

  As such measures became more common for workplace driving, the cost of the technology would fall and insurance pressures would encourage other drivers to take up similar measures.

    —  It would be wrong to single out one measure to improve road safety, as there is a synergy between various measures. In particular training encourages a rational understanding of the importance of other measures.

  The normal health and safety at work philosophy incorporates several concepts:

Safety Policy At WorkOn Roads
EnvironmentVulnerable people taken care of or excluded. Vulnerable people expected to take care, (excluded on motorways).
EducationSeminars with updates—usually compulsory. TV ads which you might happen to see.
TrainingHigh standards.
Regular updates.
Driving test—basic minimum.
No updates.
Design/engineeringTo protect people from their errors.
Safety over convenience.
Mostly to sell cars, safety secondary.

  I believe we have to replace the wishful thinking element by training, in order that design, engineering and the law can properly deliver sensible safety systems.

  Q.  Changes to speed limits; and what specific policies should be implemented.

  A.  Follow the example set by York's "Road Hierarchy".

  Q.  The extent to which relevant bodies are taking the right actions. Whether local authorities, DTLR, the Highways Agency, the police and Home Office are providing a co-ordinated approach to speed management, and what they should do.

  Whether the sentences imposed by magistrates and judges on those convicted of speeding offences have in all cases been appropriate and what other approaches ought to be considered.

  A.  At a meeting I attended, Chief Inspector Ian Bell, Project Manager, Lancashire road safety partnership, described his work with the national speed camera hypothecation pilot in Lancashire. This talk was particularly inspirational. Ian Bell described how they had made a special video pointing out the problems with road safety and how they were related to high-speeds. There is graphic footage of road safety casualties. He pointed out how road accidents cost the local health authority £360 million per year. Using the video and these factors local councillors, council officers, the police authority and senior policemen and magistrates were now supporting the campaign. There has been an absolute determination to reduce speeding in Lancashire and reduce casualty figures by least 30 per cent.

  Driver education was seen as important.

  (My sypnosis of the talk)

  The committee should study this Lancashire road safety partnership, and consider how to ensure other authorities learn from it.

  Q.  Whether motor manufacturers , the national press, TV programmes about motoring and advertisers have shown an appropriate attitude to speed, and how they should change.

  A.  Cars are advertised by style and speed, occasionally by safety. It has to be recognised that speed is attractive and thrilling, particularly to young drivers. Special education measures are required to overcome human instincts. Continual pressure is needed on car manufacturers not to pander to inappropriate human instincts.

  The attitude of BBC's "Top Gear" programme is highly irresponsible. Another programme on the driving test revealed that the Top Gear presenter was unable to pass his driving test as he had forgotten so much since he originally doing it. While this is an argument for repeat driving tests, if the BBC was a responsible organisation it would insist that all its motoring correspondents and programme presenters had Institute of Advanced Motorists training or its equivalent.

  Q.  The role of speed management strategies.

  A.  —

Ray Wilkes

on behalf of West Yorkshire Transport 2000

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