Memorandum by Street Management, Transport
for London (RTS 24)
ROAD TRAFFIC SPEEDS
1.1 I was appointed to the position of Managing
Director of Street Management, Transport for London in October
2000. From 1991 until then I was Traffic Director for London.
1.2 Transport for London is responsible
for developing and managing the Transport for London Road Network
(TLRN), 550 km of London's strategic road network including some
of near motorway standard. Transport for London is also responsible
for developing and implementing the Mayor's Road Safety Plan for
London, which was published on 4 December 2001 (1). I am charged
with implementing the Mayor's Transport Strategy (2), with specific
responsibilities for improving streets for all usersparticularly
pedestrians, bus users, cyclists and people with disabilities.
1.3 This evidence is written from a London
perspective. It covers the experience gained from implementing
the Red Route schemes from 1991 until 2000, the proposals for
further developments on the TLRN and implementing the Mayor's
Road Safety Plan (1).
2.1 The scale of the problem
2.11 There is extensive evidence of speeding
nationally. Surveys have shown that more than half of all cars
on motorways travelled faster than 70mph and 17 per cent were
travelling at more than 80mph (3). On urban roads with a 30mph
speed limit, 66 per cent of cars exceeded that limit, with 32
per cent travelling faster than 35mph (3). On a self-reporting
basis 85 per cent of respondents in a 1,000 home interview survey
across the country found themselves exceeding the speed limit
on occasion. There was general agreement that everyone did it.
2.12 In London there is a similar pattern
of widespread speeding. A Metropolitan Police survey of London
roads in June and July 1999 with a 30mph limit found that 63 per
cent of all drivers exceed the speed limit. The survey found that
10 per cent were driving at over 50mph (11).
2.13 When asked 71 per cent of a stratified
sample of 657 drivers in London said that they exceeded the speed
limit by at least 10mph once a week or more. Over one third said
they exceeded the speed limit by 10mph on five days a week or
2.2 Public attitudes to speeding
2.21 A representative group of London drivers
were asked about their attitudes to speeding compared with other
offences (4). 63 per cent of the group disapproved of others speeding
by 10mph or more above the speed limit in urban areas. This is
despite the survey results that showed that 71 per cent were speeding
by this amount at least once a week. Compared with speeding the
group disapproved more of a number of other offences including
drinking and driving, parking in a bus lane, not signalling when
turning and driving through a traffic light as it changed to red.
2.22 A sample of London drivers who had
been "booked" for speeding were asked why they had exceeded
the speed limits. The reasons, listed in the order of frequency
that they were mentioned, were:
Absent minded, unaware of speed
"No reason", "just
felt like it"
2.23 Speeding is seen as a minor problem
and practised by most on a regular basis. The safety implications
of speeding are not recognised by the London driver.
2.24 Advertising campaigns, which promote
speeding, can be found in popular car and motorcycle magazines
and the mass media. Current campaigns including the following
"you only live once so live
life in the fast lane"
"put your foot down to feel
the smooth power of the turbo engine"
"performance as the thrill of
hard acceleration and the satisfaction of a motorcycle world"
2.25 It is this kind of positive media associated
with speeding which makes the work of organisations such as TfL
and the DTLR so difficult.
2.26 Surveys (4) have shown that London
drivers think that it would be unlikely that they would be caught
(by the police or by a speed camera) if they exceeded the speed
limit. Of those interviewed 8 per cent had been caught for speeding
in the last year, with a further 11 per cent caught for speeding
a year or more ago. This situation is clearly affected by the
frequency of prosecutions for speedingprincipally through
camera technologyand this is changing rapidly.
2.27 Despite recent coverage in the national
press there is widespread public support for speed cameras that
lead to fewer crash casualties and this is discussed further below.
2.28 The Slower Speeds Initiative (5) stated
that the Home Office have indicated that 60 per cent of the 259
crime and disorder audit documents that were sent to them included
discussion of road safety in some form. There is also reference
to a review conducted by the Association of Chief Police Officers
that revealed that when audits asked about road safety, 86 per
cent of partnership areas rated it as an issue of concern to rank
alongside burglaries and muggings.
2.29 It appears that road safety is a concern
to the public, but speeding is not despite being a major cause
2.3 Prosecutions for speeding
2.31 There is inadequate police activity
in tackling the offence of speeding. In England and Wales in 1999
there were just over a million actions taken by the police against
speeding offences (6). This means that about one driver in 25
was prosecuted or received a fixed penalty notice or written warning
for speeding, despite the majority of drivers committing the offence.
2.32 In London the Metropolitan Police Service
(MPS) were less active on motoring offences than the police in
the rest of England and Wales. There were just over 42,000 actions
taken against speeding motorists by the MPS in 1999 (6), or 4
per cent of the national total. This means that only about one
driver in 55 was prosecuted or received a fixed penalty notice
or a written warning.
2.33 The problem, I believe, is that tackling
safety related motoring offences is not one of the police priorities
as set by the Home Office and the resources for enforcing speeding
is unduly limited. Whilst the new arrangements for speed cameras
will assist I believe that there is a key role for the police
to be present and taking action on the streets and I will return
to this issue later on.
2.41 Nationally speed is a major contributory
factor in about one-third of all personal injury road crashes
(7). The policy document New Directions in Speed Management (8)
sets out the national picture:
Each one mph reduction in average
speed is expected to cut the number of crashes by 6 per cent in
urban main roads.
The greatest reduction in casualties
would come from reducing the speeds of the faster drivers.
One in three surveyed drivers who
had been penalised for speeding offences in the previous three
years had been involved in a crash as a driver in the same period.
2.42 Compared with the rest of the country
there are fewer high speed roads in London and most driving and
riding is done on roads with speed limits of 30mph. This is reflected
in the crashes91 per cent of personal injury crashes occur
on roads with speed limits of 30mph or less, and 97 per cent were
on roads with speed limits of 40mph or less (9).
2.43 However this does not mean that speed
is not a factor in crashes in London. The problem is one of excessive
speeds on urban roads causing collisions and intimidating pedestrians
and cyclists. There are slightly more personal injury crashes
in London relative to the population compared with the rest of
the UK (9, 10). London's personal injury crashes are just as severe
as those in the rest of the countrycrashes with killed
and seriously injured casualties are 14 per cent of the total
for both London and the UKand this is an indicator of the
speed of impact of the vehicles and people involved.
2.44 In London there is more travel by foot
and pedestrians make up half of all the fatal casualties in London
(9), compared with a quarter for the UK as a whole (10). Pedestrians
are particularly susceptible to high speeds. Research (8) has
shown that drivers are twice as likely to kill someone when travelling
at 35mph as they are at 30mph. The overriding objective of the
Mayor's Transport Strategy is to reduce traffic congestion by
increasing how much we travel by public transport, walking and
cycling. A safe environment for vulnerable road users is essential
if this strategy is to succeed.
2.5 The hard core of persistent speeders
2.51 Research (4) was used to look at what
would stop drivers from speeding. A sample of drivers was asked
what combination of fines, penalty points and number of speed
cameras would stop them speeding. The findings showed that as
fines are increased or the number of active cameras is increased
the probability of speeding diminishes. But there appears to be
a hard core of drivers, perhaps around 10 per cent, who said they
would not be discouraged from speeding even if the fine was £120
and there was a live camera in every housing.
2.52 A minority of drivers operate beyond
the traffic regulations without being registered as the vehicle's
owner, without tax or insurance and these drivers have a disproportionate
number of crashes. A recent report by Direct Line says that Britain
has the worst record for uninsured drivers in Europe, apart from
Greece. In London, the Havering road safety group instigated a
survey in October. With the help of local police cadets they stopped
and checked 157 vehicles (in four hours, over two days) and found
48 with no road fund licence, two to be counterfeit, and one with
a licence from another vehicle. A further factor is that when
the police have tackled the drivers of untaxed vehicles they have
found that they are involved in other crimes, so that intervention
can have multiple benefits.
2.53 These factors lead me to believe that
relying just on speed and red light cameras will not be enough
to tackle speeding and other crimes by these drivers. An increase
in police resources out on the street and stopping drivers who
are suspected of offences, would be beneficial and this is something
I would wish to see implemented.
3. CURRENT POLICIES
3.1 Speed limit revisions
3.11 There has been experience in London
of lowering speed limits with enforcement that has led to a significant
reduction in casualties. Examples are:
A3 Kingston By-Passa section
had the speed limit reduced from 70mph to 50mph, with enforcement
through speed cameras, leading to a reduction in killed and serious
casualties from 41 to 21 (a 54 per cent reduction) comparing 36
months before and after the introduction of the changed speed
A40a section with speed limits
reduced from 70mph to 50mph, again with speed camera enforcement,
showed a reduction in killed and serious casualties from 36 to
17 (a 53 per cent reduction) comparing 36 months before and after
the introduction of the changed speed limits.
3.12 The success of this approach has led
to further developments to review speed limits across the TLRN.
The principles are that speed limits should be matched to the
characteristics and function of the highway. High flows of pedestrians,
narrow carriageway with variable width, poor forward visibility
and vertical or horizontal deviations are likely to be more suited
to lower speed limits.
3.13 We are currently looking at five sections
of the TLRN (A10 Bishopsgate, A214 Streatham High Street, A232
West Wickham High Street, A3 Kingston By-pass Service Roads, A2
New Cross) with a view to introducing sections of 20mph limits
as a carefully monitored study to assess the potential for more
widespread use of such measures.
4. OPTIONS FOR
4.1 Speed cameras
4.11 There is good evidence that speed cameras
reduce speeds, and reduce the number and severity of casualties.
The report in August 2001 by DTLR on the traffic safety cameras
(11) showed that:
on average speed cameras reduced
the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit from 55 per cent
to 16 per cent;
excess speed (more than 15mph over
the speed limit) at camera sites has been virtually eliminated;
average speeds at cameras sites have
been reduced on average by 5.6mph;
on average there were 35 per cent
fewer collisions at camera sites and 47 per cent fewer people
killed and seriously injured at the camera sites.
4.12 The experience of speed cameras in
London is also very positive. The West London Speed Camera Demonstration
project (dealing with most of the then Trunk roads in West London)
found that installing 21 speed cameras and 12 red light cameras
at crash hot spots led to a 71 per cent reduction in fatal casualties
and a 27 per cent reduction in serious casualties comparing a
36 month before and after period on the roads where cameras had
been installed in the study area.
4.13 Despite some recent negative publicity
in some national newspapers there is widespread support for speed
cameras. A survey in 2001 by Direct Line insurance company showed
that 89 per cent of people say that cameras will make them think
more about their speed. 50 per cent of drivers would be happy
to see more cameras and 70 per cent think that well-placed cameras
will save lives. Surveys in camera pilot areas show that 82 per
cent of the public think that cameras are meant to encourage drivers
to keep to the speed limits not to punish them (11).
4.14 In 2001 the London Safety Camera Partnership
(LSCP) was formed with TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service, City
of London Police, the Association of London Government, Greater
London Magistrates Courts Authority, The Highways Agency, the
Crown Prosecution Service and the National Health Service. In
November 2001 the LSCP submitted a bid (12) to Government to obtain
permission to introduce a system of netting off fixed penalty
fine revenue. This is part of the national roll out of the netting
off scheme that was piloted in 1999-2000.
4.15 This scheme, if approved in February
2002, will allow for an increase in the effective operation of
speed and red light cameras, with the operating costs of the enforcement
being paid for from the fine revenues.
4.16 The intention is that more effective
use is made of the speed cameras. There will be 122 fixed speed
camera sites in the first year of operation rising to 194 in 2006-07.
These sites will be selected on the basis of having high numbers
of killed and seriously injured casualties from collisions in
which speed was a factor. The sites will include some of the existing
speed camera sites and new ones at locations with high numbers
of collisions. The intention is to have a live camera at a quarter
of all sites at any time compared with the current arrangements
whereby only one in 11 sites has a live camera at any time. There
will also be a programme of enforcement using mobile speed detection
devices. The Partnership is keen to introduce new speed detection
and enforcement technology as it comes on stream.
4.17 The enforcement activity is expected
to increase the number of Fixed Penalty Notices that are issued
from 57,000 in 2000-01 to a maximum of 150,000 in 2004-05. The
enforcement effort is expected to reduce speeding and the number
of offences and tickets issued will start to fall after 2004/5.
4.18 The strategy is expected to yield benefits
of the order of 175 fewer people killed and seriously injured
(KSI) in the first year of operation, rising to 275 in 2006-07.
This will play a major role in achieving the Mayor's targets for
casualty reduction over the period to 2010.
4.19 The Partnership is expected to bring
valuable benefits to London through lowering speeds and reducing
casualties but there are further improvements that could be gained
through modifications to the way the scheme is run:
Allow the fines revenue to be used
for engineering and education measures that could contribute to
casualty reductions. The fines revenue is expected to exceed operating
costs, especially if expected efficiency improvements in back
office operations is achieved.
Ring-fence the savings for safety
work. The police are expected to recover £3.7 million from
the fines revenue (including red light cameras) to offset their
costs and they intend to use these resources on other vital police
work. However there is scope to apply any savings for safety work,
particularly through mobile speed detection (radar guns) and stopping
errant drivers. Recent experience by the police in the London
Borough of Havering has shown how this activity can help to curb
speeding and also track down drivers using untaxed vehicles and
drivers involved in other crime as previously indicated in section
2.52. The level of untaxed vehicles is and this threatens to undermine
the safety camera work that relies on penalising the registered
driver. Collision data has also shown a correlation between crime
and high crash rates, so that stopping speeding drivers and checking
for documentation is likely to have a positive effect on road
Reconsider the conspicuity regulations.
The likely impact of the recent requirement to make the camera
housings more conspicuous by painting them yellow and for additional
signing is that the speed cameras will become less effective.
Drivers will tailor their speeds more carefully to the camera
sites and avoid fines without reducing their speed away from the
sites. Other safety camera partnerships are forecasting a drop
in revenue of 40 per cent in fine revenues. The regulations to
improve conspicuity result from no research and have been introduced
to address negative publicity from some national newspapers, that
has been shown above to be unfounded.
4.2 Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)
4.21 With on-board speed limiters activated
externally there is scope to change dramatically the way we drive.
Such a system would ensure compliance with the speed limits for
the cars that are fitted with these devices without the need for
traffic calming such as speed humps or other physical measures.
4.22 I look forward to the current research
work into ISAs and welcome the initiative by the DTLR to have
20 ISA cars introduced in 2002 (13).
4.23 At TfL it is recognised that in order
to bring about an increase in public transport usage measures
are required to make buses more attractive and safer to use. Rapid
breaking or accelerating can lead to collisions, especially for
the elderly or infirm, whilst on the bus. Through our contractual
arrangements with the bus operating companies we are investigating
the use of "black box" technology to improve driving
standards and reduce the incidence of passengers being injured
within the bus or when getting on or off.
4.3 Driver training
4.3.1 Early work in Exeter and the more
recent study by Chester University has shown that the National
Driver Improvement Scheme is effective is making drivers that
have demonstrated poor driving skills and attitudes become safer
on the roads and reduced their risk. I believe that training drivers
along the lines of the NDIS out of their speeding habits could
also be effective. There would have to be compulsion for the offending
drivers to attend the training and this should be linked to the
4.4 At-work road safety
4.4.1 I welcome the report of the Work-related
Road Safety Task Group (14). In London the delivery, despatch,
courier and motorcycle delivery services represent a significant
flow of vehicles, and it is likely that work-related road crashes
are a significant problem in London as for the rest of the country.
Further research is required to identify the scale of this problem
and I support proposals to include journey purpose as a new question
for the police to ask when recording the details of personal injury
4.42 I welcome the proposal in the report
that the existing health and safety at work laws and responsibilities
should be applied to on-the-road activities. TfL is currently
working in partnership with the Despatch Association to promote
the Courier Code to London-based firms. As part of this work we
aim to determine attitudes among professional road users to road
safety and to identify the necessary training requirements.
4.43 Inappropriate journey planning, vehicles,
drivers or riders and training as well as pressures of time-tabling
can all contribute to speeding, other traffic offences and a higher
than necessary level of crashes. A proper risk assessment, including
measures to discourage speeding as a means of meeting work performance
targets, would help drive down the number of casualties and I
strongly support this approach.
4.5 Vehicle design and protection for pedestrians
4.51 The European Commission have examined
the issue of how the design of vehicle fronts could save lives
or reduce the injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists who
are hit by cars. Across Europe 9,000 lives are lost each year
in crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. It is estimated
that up to 2,100 of these could be saved and 18,000 severe injuries
prevented if cars meet the standards set by the European Enhanced
Vehicle Safety Committee (EEVC). These require car fronts to be
softer without hard edges and shaped to reduce damage to adults
and children. In London almost half of all fatalities from road
crashes are pedestrians who are knocked down by cars and other
vehicles. Safer car fronts would be particularly beneficial where
speeds are reduced to below 35mph.
4.52 The EC have now decided to promote
a voluntary agreement with the car manufacturers that offers far
less protection than the original stringent tests and TfL have
made representation to government that the higher standard tests
be retained. A copy of my response is attached as Appendix One.
I urge the Committee to support the adoption of a European Parliament
and Council Directive to secure safer car fronts in accordance
with EEVC standards, as the voluntary negotiated agreement does
not offer an equivalent level of protection.
4.6 More police on the streets
4.61 In the evidence above I have referred
to the relative lack of enforcement effort by the police for speeding,
and the links between traffic offences and other crime. I referred
to the increasing number of motorists who operated without licensed
or insured cars, which also enables the motorist to evade prosecution
through the safety camera schemes. With many more people killed
on the roads than through all crimes combined there is a strong
case for putting more police resources into speeding and road
4.62 Additional, active police resources
out on the streets is the key to improving enforcement, increasing
safety and reducing crime. I believe that this is now the most
important issue concerning speeding and road safety in London.
I recommend to the Committee that they consider the issue of police
priorities for traffic safety.
4.63 At TfL we are working with the Metropolitan
Police Service (MPS) on the development of a "Safe Corridors"
initiative. TfL has included £25 million in its 2002-03 bid
to the Greater London Authority for this project, which will cover
the cost of establishing a Transport Operational Control Unit
*OCU). The OCU, which will be jointly managed by TfL and the MPS,
will ensure the efficient and safe movement of people and goods
along 20 corridors, covering 26 bus routes. It is this type of
partnership initiative with dedicated police resources that will
ensure a safer London in accordance with our shared objectives.
1. London's Road Safety Plan Transport
for London, (TfL) Street Management, November 2001.
2. The Mayor's Transport Strategy,
3. Vehicle Speeds in Great Britain
2000, DTLR, July 2001.
4. Bus Lane Camera Research. Unpublished
work by Accent for Transport for London, Street Management, May
5. Killing SpeedA good practice
guide to speed management. Slower Speeds Initiative 2001.
6. Offences relating to motor vehicles.
England and Wales 1999. Home Office.
7. Tomorrow's RoadsSafer for
Everyone, DETR, March 2000.
8. New directions in Speed Managementa
review of policy, DETR, March 2000.
9. Accidents and casualties on London's
roads 2000, TfL Street Management, September 2001.
10. Transport Statistics Road Accidents
2000, DTLR, 2000.
11. Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety
Cameras, First Year Report, DTLR, August 2001.
12. The London Safety Camera Partnership
Draft Operational Case, November 2001.
13. Speeding: The Continuing Challenge,
Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, December
14. Reducing at-work road traffic incidents.
Report to Government and the Health and Safety Commission by the
Work-related Road Safety Task Force, November 2001.