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

Memorandum by Slower Speeds Initiative (RTS 34)



  The Slower Speeds Initiative was founded in March 1998 by the Children's Play Council, CTC the Environmental Transport Association, Pedestrians Association, Pedestrian Policy Group, Road Danger Reduction Forum, RoadPeace, Sustrans and Transport 2000. We believe that lower speeds are essential to encourage sustainable transport modes and to reduce the impacts of our transport system, including excessively dispersed development, pollution, fuel consumption and noise as well as the overall number and severity of road casualties and their wider social costs. We campaign for lower and better enforced speed limits, a higher profile for speed reduction initiatives, development of speed control technology, stiffer penalties for speeding offences and more responsible attitudes to speed.

  Our campaign has been endorsed by 17 local authorities, over 30 national organisations and over 200 community groups. We have ever 600 individual supporters and a rapidly growing grassroots network of individuals and groups who are actively campaigning for speed reductions, traffic calming and improved enforcement in their local authority areas.

  People who contact the initiative for information and advice cannot understand why serious road casualties must occur before their local authorities and local police forces will intervene to control traffic speeds (and in many cases, not even after serious crashes have occurred). We cannot understand it either. We, like them, would like to see a complete change in the basis for speed control. The emphasis must be on reducing danger and preventing casualties, rather than literally waiting for them to happen. Awareness of the wider impacts of traffic speeds on quality of life would place speed control at the heart of all initiatives, national and local, to restore "liveability" to our streets. We therefore greatly welcome the opportunity presented by this Inquiry.


  Speed amplifies the dangers in any traffic situation and crash frequencies are extremely sensitive to very small changes in speed. For any given type of road, reducing average speeds and the spread of speeds will reduce the number and severity of casualties. For every 1mph reduction in average speed, crashes are reduced by between 2-7 per cent. A mere 2mph reduction in average speeds across the entire road network would prevent more than 200 deaths and 3,500 serious casualties a year.1

  Such small differences in speed are unlikely to be detected in crash investigations. For this reason, we believe that the official estimate that speed is the major factor in one third of crashes is too low. All of the evidence from traffic calming schemes and speed limit enforcement with speed cameras indicates that, for deaths and serious injuries at least, it is much higher. The first year of the speed camera cost recovery scheme has produced an average 47 per cent reduction in the number of people killed and injured.2 20mph zones reduce injury collisions of all severities by 60 per cent and sometimes by much more.3


  Injury severity at any given speed varies with the vulnerability of the road user. Struck by a car travelling 30mph, 45 per cent of pedestrians will be killed and 90 per cent will receive non-minor injuries. Injury severity increases very rapidly with speed. 35mph is a speed that will kill 70 per cent of pedestrians. At 20mph only 5 per cent of pedestrians will be killed.4


  Inequitable distribution of casualties, road danger, intimidation and distortion of transport choice: We assume that the Committee is concerned with the impacts of speed on quality of life in all communities, rural as well as urban. Higher speeds and low rates of enforcement exacerbate in rural areas many of the most acute impacts of speed—especially danger, intimidation, severance and noise.

  The most wide-ranging quality of life impact of speed is on equity. Risk, road danger and the resulting casualties are very inequitably distributed from the point of view of social inclusion and sustainable transport modes—both of great importance to improving quality of life in our towns and cities. Casualty and other data indicate that people from disadvantaged communities are more likely to be victims of road crashes. Vulnerable road users are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in road crashes than car occupants. Road danger is the single most important obstacle in encouraging alternatives to the private car, especially for short journeys.

  Due to lower rates of car ownership and higher rates of journeys on foot and bicycle, higher population densities and greater proximity to major roads through urban areas, people from poorer households are disproportionately exposed to the impacts of speed. 35 per cent of crashes occur on A roads in built-up areas.5 Speed reductions were recommended by the 1998 Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Heath.6

  The range of adverse effects of speed is perhaps most unfairly focussed on children, who suffer both high rates of casualties when they are exposed to road danger and long-term impacts that are a consequence of efforts to protect them from road danger. Our child pedestrian casualty and child obesity statistics should be treated as twin indicators of the impacts of road danger on quality of life in Britain today.

  Britain has one of the worst child pedestrian casualty records in Europe,7 while at the same time having one of the highest rates of restriction on children's independent mobility.8 Children from lower income households are six times more likely to be involved in road crashes than their wealthier counterparts.9 Ethnic minority children are more likely to be involved in road crashes.10

  Traffic intimidation affects children's long-term health and development when physical activity is suppressed. We have a serious and widely recognised problem of overweight children which has been directly linked to the suppression of walking and cycling.11 Walking and cycling help children to learn about their local environment, develop road sense, assess risk, learn responsibility and self-reliance and build a sense of identity.12, 13 These are important consequences from the standpoint of both the individual and society.

  Roads in our built up areas are potentially lethal to pedestrians and cyclists. The legal 30mph limit threatens serious injury to everyone not in a car and death for nearly half of them. But rates of speeding by all categories of motorised traffic make the hazards much greater. Two-thirds of car drivers ignore the urban 30mph limit, with nearly a third of them exceeding 35mph in built up areas.14

  Though we have some of the lowest rates of walking and cycling in Europe,15 British pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be killed than any of their European counterparts.16 Official casualty records are only a very partial indicator of danger on the roads since they underestimate serious injuries by a factor of three for all road users and nearly six for cyclists.17, 18

  It is wholly unacceptable that people already using the alternatives advocated in Government transport policy do so at such a high personal risk which is a direct result of failings of the same policy.

  Traffic speed is the main source of road danger and road danger discourages most people from walking and cycling. A MORI study for the Commission for Integrated Transport has found 44 per cent of people "said they would cycle more if the roads were safer and 26 per cent would travel less by car if the conditions for walking locally were better".19 Research on attitudes to local transport issues undertaken for DTLR found that speed featured in the top eight of unprompted local concerns.20

  Community Severance: Fear of traffic causes severance which is an important factor in social exclusion. It makes access to necessary facilities dangerous and difficult, especially in rural areas, and discourages support networks which have an important function in protecting health.21

  Noise: Road traffic is the main source of outdoor noise affecting almost every dwelling in the country. It contributes to stress-related health problems including raised blood pressure and minor psychiatric illness.22 Research in Greenwich revealed that 21 per cent of council tenants ranked traffic noise as an issue of major concern, on a par with fear of violence and crime.23

  Tyre noise predominates at higher speeds and is a major intrusion for communities and visitors in rural areas. Engine noise predominates at lower speeds but is also influenced by driving style. Traffic noise associated with high speeds or rapid acceleration and braking is another major source of concern for people who contact the Initiative.

  Air Quality: The relationship between speed and air quality is complex. The Government's Traffic and Air Quality Management Research programme (TRAMAQ) has revealed no overall deterioration in air quality as a result of speed reductions, due to in part to the traffic reducing effect of traffic calming schemes. The balance between reduced crashes and increased emissions is problematic only in Air Quality Management Areas where standards are frequently breached.24

  Global warming: The Government's main argument against reducing the urban 30mph limit to 20mph was that emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 "would increase markedly. This would be unacceptable at a time when the government has a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a domestic goal to cut CO2 emissions.25" However, the Government did not consider the potential trade off between any theoretical increases in CO2 emissions within towns and the reductions that might be achieved by properly enforced and especially lower limits on roads outside towns.

  Climate change is the most far-reaching threat to quality of life and dramatic reductions in our use of fossil fuels are necessary. Emissions of CO2 are proportional to fuel consumption, which varies with speed. More fuel is used at higher speeds and by more powerful vehicles with faster acceleration. In terms of fuel use alone, optimal speeds are between 50 to 70kph. In 2000, the majority of car drivers exceeded the 70mph limit for motorways and dual carriageways.26

  The optimal speed band for fuel consumption would be very much lower if vehicle engines were not designed to allow for driving at speeds well in excess of the top national limit. Most car travel takes place in built-up areas or on minor roads where low speeds either do or should apply. Legislation to end the manufacture of cars capable of illegal speeds would lead to more fuel efficient cars much better adapted to the conditions under which they are most often driven.

  Speed generates traffic as people travel further but faster by car. Since the early 1970s, the overall distance travelled per person per year has increased by 55 per cent but the average time spent travelling is almost the same.27 Lower speeds would encourage less widely dispersed patterns of activity, which would reduce vehicle mileage and allow substitution of motorised transport with sustainable modes.

  The adoption of lower and better enforced speed limits, together with legal restrictions on top speed and acceleration, would reduce rather than increase fuel consumption, thereby contributing to government policy on combating climate change.


  Cities have been adapted to accommodate fast moving traffic safely and to reduce journey times for motorists. Public space has been surrendered to traffic. The residual, disrupted and often derelict spaces left to pedestrians and cyclists indicate the low value placed on their safety and time. The dominance of high speed traffic in urban areas has also led to a deterioration of environmental quality, with a consequent flight from cities by those who can afford it and inner city decay for those who cannot. This flight is made possible by a roads programme dedicated to speeding up journeys. High speed interurban road travel has led to development in the countryside and impacts on village form.


  There has been much research on both the consequences and reasons for illegal and inappropriate speed, notably the Europe-wide MASTER study (Managing Speeds of Traffic on European Roads) completed in 1998. The DTLR has a valuable research programme that underpins much of the best recent policy development. The AA has published work which indicates that drivers do not regard speeding as a serious offence, are not the best judges of their own driving abilities, often prefer to blame others for crashes, including children, and require consistent enforcement and higher penalties to change behaviour.28

  There is too little research on the influence of the vehicle design on driver speed choice. More reliable UK based research into perceptions of road danger and how this affects transport choice is needed. Direct data on the distribution of road casualties related to socio-economic group is also needed.

  To aid the development of speed policy, we recommend two major areas of research:

  1.  Social surveys to trace the development of knowledge, opinions and attitudes about speed among both the general public and motorists should be conducted at regular intervals. The surveys should cover knowledge of the relationship between speed and danger and the other costs and nuisances of traffic; knowledge of the relationships between speed and travel time and travel patterns; opinions on what speed limits would be appropriate on different classes of road; attitudes to enforcement of speed limits in general and to particular methods of enforcement.

  2.  Trials of lower speeds and speed limits to produce empirical data on the impacts of speed, including its contribution to crashes. Trials of reduced and properly enforced speed limits on all classes of road are needed to investigate the impacts of speed on crashes, journey times and vehicle operating costs, driver stress, levels of walking and cycling, fear and quality of life. These trials could be incorporated into pilot speed management strategies using the speed assessment framework we discuss below.


A new basis for speed management is needed

  Decisions on the type and extent of measures to tackle speed and the role of the main agencies must be framed with reference to a concept of APPROPRIATE speeds based on clear principles, objectives and the conditions for achieving these. This is particularly necessary in order to establish an understanding about what speeds are appropriate which is capable of being held in common by the responsible agencies, made available to the general public and promoted through all relevant educational channels.29

  The extent to which different measures should be used to tackle speed also depends on the basis principles guiding interventions. Almost all speed management in the UK is reactive. It waits for the "accidents" to happen and then targets "blackspots", instead of using traffic speed and flow data as predictors of danger or listening to community demand. The best measures in the world will be quite limited in their effectiveness if we keep them on the shelf unit until we have had the requisite number of KSIs and PIAs.

  Institutional tolerance of casualties and lack of agreement about what speeds are appropriate are at the heart of our failure to manage speed.

  Best practice from Europe and the UK shows that the greatest casualty reductions follow from a principled approach. The Swedish Vision Zero safety policy has a goal of no fatal or serious injuries on their roads. It recognises that crashes will always occur but that the state can intervene to eliminate the most serious consequences. The needs of the most vulnerable roads users determine the safety demands on the system. Speed reduction is the single most important measure in the programme.30 The Dutch began a Sustainable Safety programme in 1997 also predicted on clear principles of danger reduction, with infrastructure adapted to the limitations of human capabilities.31 Sweden and the Netherlands have the lowest incidence of pedestrian casualties in the EU ranking respectively 1 and 2, compared to the UK ranking of 10.32 The UK has the second lowest level for walking in the EU.33

  York City Council pioneered a danger reduction approach to speed management and as a result met the first casualty reduction targets well in advance of target dates.34 Danger reduction seeks equity and accessibility for all roads users.35 The Council recognises that: "Slowing traffic down is the best way to stop accidents and make the roads safer for all road users."

A 20mph limit for roads in built up area

  We believe that the case for a 20mph limit for the majority of roads in built-up areas, from our cities to small rural settlements, is proven.

  The Government concluded in its review of speed policy that 30mph is "appropriate" for urban areas.36 However, the simple curves of injury severity related to speed, on their own, show that a 30mph limit on our most intensively used roads is too dangerous for sustainable road users and imposes great inequality in relative risk.

  The speed crash relationship shows that, on any given road, reducing average speeds and the spread of speeds is the best way to reduce casualties. The average commuting speed for cyclists is about 7.5 mph. If cycling is to become a viable mode in our towns and cities, the difference between the speed of cars and cycles must be reduced.

  One of the most important outputs from MASTER is a speed assessment framework which shows that 30mph is too high for most roads in built up areas.37

  More recently, the Commission for Integrated Transport study of European Best Practice has established that area-wide 30kph (about 19mph) speed limits, properly enforced, are not only appropriate but essential to successful transport policy:

  The one critical success factor underpinning best practice in all case study areas was the introduction of area wide 20mph zones. . .it has been fundamental in prompting both strong growth in walking and cycling and in the ability of public transport to compete with the private car. . .This initiative has helped transform the case study cities across Europe from being noisy, polluted places into vibrant, people centred environments as well as facilitating the widespread re-allocation of street space to public transport, cycling and walking to meet increased demand.38

  Therefore, (a) in principle and (b) according to the most detailed assessment of impacts we have and (c) with reference to a wider set of integrated transport objectives, 20mph should be the maximum speed on most roads in built up areas (including rural settlements).

  Finally, 20mph zones are popular: 80 per cent of people want them.39

  A speed assessment framework is needed to determine appropriate speeds and speed limits on all other roads.

  The commitments made in the Road Safety Strategy on "safer speeds" include an assessment framework upon which many of the other commitments logically depend both in detail and in their ultimate scope. These include new guidance on setting local speed limits—urgently needed from the perspective of the individuals and groups who contact the Initiative—development of new road hierarchies and a simplified procedure for local authorities to make speed limit orders with reference to speed management plans.

  The MASTER speed assessment framework involves detailed but transparent modelling of the impacts of speed and allows optimal speeds to be determined. Use of the framework would help to maximise casualty reductions from speed management by balancing them against any disbenefits of reduced speeds; provide local communities with a transparent and accountable process for determining speeds for roads to which the default 20mph should not apply; and provide the basis for local authority speed management strategies. A framework would encourage consistency in setting speed limits—necessary for drivers and for fair treatment for communities across the country. It would provide a basis for defending investment in speed reduction measures against the inevitable attacks. It would help demonstrate the wider impacts of speed to those, such as drivers, and employers, to whom they are now quite invisible. We recommend large scale pilots of the framework under "DTLR" below.

Better Enforcement

  Enforcement must become a top priority. It is essential if public attitudes to speed are to change just as it was essential to change attitudes to drink driving. Enforcement is the best way to persuade drivers that speed limits are meaningful. The rapid success of the safety camera cost recovery scheme shows that enforcement reduces casualties. In Northamptonshire increased enforcement produced a noticeable dampening down of speed.40 First year results from the pilot areas show a reduction in fatal and serious injuries twice that for the rest of the UK.41 This is consistent with wider compliance and the casualty reductions that would be expected according to the speed crash relationship. The European 30kph zones are backed up with police enforcement using mobile speed cameras. The safety camera partnerships have shown that, with proper publicity, enforcement is popular.

Changes to speed limits, road classification

  We have argued for a new 20mph speed limit for the majority of built up roads. Application of a speed assessment framework would undoubtedly lead to new speed limits for other roads, especially rural single carriageway roads. Where calculations have been carried out to determine optimal speeds, speeds on all roads are shown to be too high. Plowden and Hillman have calculated that speed limits on all UK road should be on average at least 10mph lower.42 Very similar results were obtained in a Swedish study.43

  Speed limits indicate to drivers what is expected of them and the maximum speeds considered appropriate by the wider society. There is no reason for drivers to ignore speed limits, except to assert what they consider to be their individual interests against those of society. With the use of an assessment framework, better information about the reasons for speed limits and greater enforcement, there should be greater compliance with posted limits.

  Suffolk reduced speed limits without accompanying measures in 450 villages44 and advisory 20mph limits were tested in Scotland.45 Even though compliance with the new limits is limited, average speeds are reduced and the reductions are greatest for the highest speeds. These speed reductions have been associated with crash reductions, as the speed/crash relationship predicts. In the Scottish project there was "a considerable drop in the number of recorded accidents per year" accompanied by "a significant reduction in severity with serious or fatal accidents reduced from 20 per cent to 14 per cent of the total". In Suffolk there were 20 per cent fewer crashes compared to roads where there had been no change of limit.

  The Road Safety Strategy commits the Government to "the creation of (a) hierarchy of roads by road usage" for both rural and urban road networks.46 Work on the rural road hierarchy indicates that a certain amount of reclassification will be necessary in order to provide consistent signals to drivers.47

  Road categorisation (or re-classification) for speed management purposes, taking road function into account, is a key element in best practice in this country (for example, in York and Gloucester) and in Europe. In the Netherlands, the entire road network is being reclassified as part of their sustainable safety strategy and in order to assign appropriate speeds limits. Up to 90 per cent of Dutch urban roads will be subject to a 30kph limit. The best practice case studies in Europe (Stuttgart, Graz, Munich) have introduced 30kph limits on between 65-80 per cent of the urban road network.48

Traffic calming, reallocation of road space and road re-design

  Traffic calming works relatively well, is necessary on sensitive roads and it is very cost effective. The average rate of return on traffic calming schemes is around 500 per cent. Area wide schemes work best.49 An area-wide approach to traffic calming, necessary to introduce blanket 20mph speed limits, would reduce the number of individual measures required.50 There is some anecdotal evidence from Kingston-upon-Hull, with 20 per cent coverage of 20mph zones our most traffic calmed city, that drivers are slowing down outside the zones.51

  Where there are good reasons to have a speed limit higher than 20mph in urban areas, road space must be reallocated to pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians should not be segregated from traffic in ways which make walking journeys less direct, pleasant or convenient. Reallocating road space can itself be a traffic calming measure.

  Road redesign incorporating "natural" traffic calming features should be used as far as possible to restore the urban and rural environments, reclaim the public space that has been ceded to cars and assist regeneration. Poundbury in Dorset shows that focusing on creating pleasing urban spaces generates street forms which calm traffic. In Norfolk and the Netherlands, signs and road markings have been removed to reduce speeds, restore rural character and encourage pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders.52


  More awareness of speed and its impacts is needed, both general and targeted. Drivers in particular need to be made aware of the consequences of their speed choices, including intimidation, noise and emissions, since most of these fall on wider society. The recent THINK! Campaign is very welcome but does not address these wider impacts. The concept of speed limits as a maximum not a target or even minimum speed, must be restored.

  The success of European area wide 30kph limits has been based on consultation, awareness raising of the potential benefits and driver education. These have been major components of successful projects in the UK, such as the Gloucester Safer City project and the speed camera partnerships.

  We are concerned at education programmes for children which place too much emphasis on a child's responsibility for road safety. To get this in perspective, the Government has recently announced £3.5 million for 28 20mph zones in England, and £3 million toward child pedestrian education. Much more money should be spent on educating drivers and reducing the consequences of driver behaviour.


  The ultimate solution to the problem of speed is at its source: the vehicle. All cars should be speed-limited in order to reduce the costs to society of road crashes and their prevention. Driver-operated variable speed-limiters based on cruise control technology could be introduced much more rapidly and cheaply than the external vehicle speed control systems now favoured by the Government. The Government should initiate research and development on driver-operated variable speed limiters, in parallel with the research now being undertaken on externally activated limiters with a view to making it compulsory for vehicles to be fitted with speed limiters.

  Black boxes could offer an interim step and provide valuable information about the role of speed in crashes. Since fitting them, the Metropolitan Police have reduced crashes by 25 per cent.53 As many as a third of crashes are thought to occur in the course of work.54 Government incentives to encourage the fitting of black boxes and speed limiters in company cars should make a substantial contribution to casualty reduction.

Specific Policies

  A new 20mph default limit for built up areas should be introduced and implemented by (a) a new Ten Year Plan commitment to eliminate the backlog in traffic calming schemes; (b) removing the casualty history requirement for road safety interventions and using community demand and measures of road danger in connection with local transport objectives instead; (c) expanding all 20mph zone proposals in current Local Transport Plans and making 20mph limits a component of all schemes developed in connection with child road safety audits, school and work travel plans; (d) ensuring consistent application of 20mph as the design speed in all changes to the urban road network, eg traffic management, road improvements, highway maintenance and regeneration schemes; (e) incorporating advice on 20mph zones in all planning guidance.

  Local authorities should be required to introduce a 30mph maximum speed limit for villages, with 20mph where this would support modal shift and local quality of life, within the life of the first round of local transport plans.

  Local authorities should review speed limits on all roads under their control in accordance with a speed management framework and road hierarchy template developed by DTLR but adaptable to local needs and transport/land use objectives.

  The Government should introduce Best Value indicators for speed reduction (including traffic calming and enforcement) for local authorities and the police.

  A speed assessment framework should also be used to review speed limits on the national network and the national roads programme.

  The Government should start to develop policies which will both require, and provide incentives for, the introduction of driver-operated speed limiters.


  A co-ordinated approach is beginning to emerge as a result of the Road Safety Strategy and Local Transport Plan system. The rapid development and roll-out of the speed cameras cost recovery mechanism demonstrates the ability of key departments to work together very successfully and to innovate where the local enthusiasm is backed with appropriate resources. This approach should be expanded and made more coherent. Above all there should be more work on the links between improving road safety and delivering sustainable transport.

Local Authorities

  Much best practice in speed management has come from local authorities who have not waited for promoting from Government. However, most local authorities place insufficient emphasis on road safety and spend too little on it. Only a fraction of the £1.5 billion allocated in this year's Local Transport Settlement will be spent on safety schemes, and even less on schemes to control traffic speeds:

  "In practice road safety expenditure generally settles at a level which leaves on hold many projects which could save lives and injuries, at costs far below those at which they are valued in the central government guidance to local authorities. . .But the present ratio of safety benefits of marginal projects to their costs is about ten. This cannot be justified."55

  The single most important change local authorities could make would be to stop rationing local safety schemes and instead to adopt road danger reduction principles.


  The DTLR must revise its guidance which focuses road safety expenditure on casualty reduction rather than prevention. The speed assessment framework and accompanying guidance on setting speed limits should be made available to local authorities before they draw up their next around of local transport plans.

  There is a need to overcome the constraints on spending on speed reduction measures to benefit communities and vulnerable road users. There is also an urgent need to expand the use of 20mph speed limits to enable delivery of the Government's integrated transport strategy. We have made recommendations under "specific policies", above.

  The European Best Practice study shows that we differ not in policies but in their scale and intensity of implementation.56 To realise the required scale and intensity of implementation, spending should be increased till the rate of return on road safety schemes falls from the current average of 500 per cent to the level expected in other areas of transport infrastructure investment. Failure to do this makes a nonsense of the application of cost benefit analysis elsewhere in transport policy. This money could be readily invested through existing programmes.

  The Department should issue guidance to local authorities to identify significant areas and core networks for speed reduction in support of LTP objectives and schemes. The guidance should be linked to instructions to regional offices to increase allocation for safety schemes in the settlements from 2003-04 onwards with encouragement to local authorities to bring forward existing schemes this year (2002-03).

  Work on the speed assessment framework (Road Safety Strategy commitment 94, paras 6.20, 6.21-22) should be brought forward as swiftly as possible. The Department is very successful in using pilots to encourage and test innovation, as the 20mph zones, Gloucester Safer City, Home Zones and speed camera pilots show. The Rural Road Hierarchy Working Group recommended a desk-top study and a regional trial converting existing roads to the new system.57 The Working Group recommendation could be incorporated in a wider trial of the speed assessment framework. This could involve the Department and a sample of local authorities in each region working together to collect data on existing speeds and applying the framework—suitably adapted for the local context—in connection with new use hierarchies, supported by proper enforcement.

  The outputs would provide an empirical basis for the guidance on speed limit setting and local authority speed management strategies as well as national application of the framework and further testing of a range of speed reduction measures already included in the Road Safety Strategy commitments. A two year demonstration project could be backed by a government commitment to have the new system in place for the second round of LTPs. A few large scale demonstration projects would also enable a cost benefit comparison of area-wide speed management with other major transport projects.

The Highways Agency

  The Highways Agency also needs a speed assessment framework (a) for the purposes of network management and (b) for project appraisal so that the economic value assigned to journey time savings does not lead to excessively costly road building or improvements.

The Police

  The biggest success story on speed management in decades—the national roll-out of the speed camera cost recovery mechanism—has been in large part due to committed police forces ready to give casualty reduction a high priority and to work in partnership. However, all police forces must place a higher priority on enforcing speed limits which are set to reflect community demand and integrated transport objectives. The police should stop blocking speed limit reductions.

  There should be more consistent and rigorous interpretation of ACPO guidelines on speed limit enforcement across all police forces. The threshold speeds are still too high and still interpreted too liberally. They make the road environment far too dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yellow Cameras

  The guidelines requiring speed cameras to be highly conspicuous imply that speed limits will be rigorously enforced only where there is a very serious casualty history and when the driver is forewarned of their enforcement. We are very concerned about the implications for speed limit enforcement where there is no casualty history and away from camera sites. We are also concerned about the message drivers are receiving about the function of speed limits and their status in law. Monitoring of the schemes should include reliable data on speeds and crashes away from camera sites in order to ascertain whether conspicuousness leads to crash migration or much more localised speed reductions.

  The requirement for a casualty history for the siting of cameras prevents their wider use to reduce the impacts of speed on quality of life and transport choice. This requirement should be dropped in line with the changes we have recommended for speed management based on danger reduction principles.

  Crime and Disorder Audits should include questions about traffic speeds in order for police to assess community satisfaction with enforcement effort.

  The police should have Best Value indicators and Local Public Service Agreements on speed limit enforcement.

The Home Office

  The Home Office should give greater priority to speed limit enforcement in the duties of the police. We are concerned at the possibility that traffic policing could be transferred to police support staff, particularly at a time when the Home Office has recognised the role of the police in protecting quality of life in communities and reducing the fear of crime.

  The stiffer penalties for speeding proposed in the Review of Road Traffic Penalties should be brought in without delay.

  There should be a review of role of traffic law in protecting pedestrians and cyclists. Legislation to create a strict liability offence for drivers who injure vulnerable road users should be considered.

Magistrates and Judges

  Rates of speeding show that current enforcement effort and sentencing policy have little effect on speed choice and thus the degree of danger and related costs a driver imposes on society.

  The charge of "dangerous driving" is rarely brought, even for drivers who kill. Instead, the lesser charge of "careless driving" will be heard by magistrates. Sentences are far too lenient. Drivers found guilty of a charge of causing death by dangerous driving are rarely given the maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. The average penalty for a careless driving charge is £250.

  Sentencing should take more account of driver responsibility. Judges and magistrates should receive guidance to encourage greater use of maximum penalties, and greater awareness of the need to protect vulnerable road users.

The role of the media

  Speed is glamourised in the media. This encourages the benefits of improved safety performance to be consumed in higher levels of risk. It may also contribute to the high rates of mortality among young people due to road crashes. The ability of drivers to decide what speeds are appropriate is often portrayed as a fundamental freedom of a liberal democracy while the words "walking", "cycling" and "driver responsibility" are rarely seen or heard. Motoring lobby backlash has seriously weakened Government resolve with regard to transport policy and specifically on speed limits and enforcement. Informed public debate on the impacts of speed and the basis of Government policy is needed. A speed assessment framework would underpin informed debate.

The role of speed management strategies

  Speed management strategies are essential. National road safety policies in Sweden and the Netherlands have made speed management a central feature, with safety for the most vulnerable road users a key measure of success. In the UK, pioneering local authorities such as York, Gloucester and Devon have developed comprehensive strategies. Common to all is a clear statement of principles, categorisation of the road network in terms of function, appropriate speeds and appropriate measures to achieve the desired speeds, consultation with the public and high profile awareness campaigns on the impacts of speed, enforcement and recognition of the role of speed management in promoting sustainable transport.


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  2.  DTLR (2001) Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras: First Year Report (Executive Summary).

  3.  Webster, D C and Mackie, A M (1996) Review of traffic calming schemes in 20 mph zones, TRL report 215, Crowthorne, Bucks; Transport Research Laboratory.

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  6.  Department of Health (1998) Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health, London: The Stationery Office.

  7.  DETR (1999) Transport Statistics: Child Casualties in Road Accidents.

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  10.  DETR (2001) New release 260: 4 May 2001 "£10 million for child road safety lessons".

  11.  Commission for Integrated Transport (2001) European Best Practice Key Findings.

  12.  Moore, R (1986) Children's domain: Play and place in child development, London: Croom Helm.

  13.  Kegerreis, S (1993) "Independent mobility and child mental and emotional development", in Hillman, M (ed) Children, Transport and the Quality of Life, London: Policy Studies Institute.

  14.  DTLR (2001) Transport Statistics Great Britain 2001, Table 4.13: Vehicle speeds on urban roads by speed limit and vehicle type: 2000.

  15.  WS Atkins (2001) European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport, Summary Report, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  16.  European Transport Safety Council (2000) Safety of Pedestrians and Cyclists in Urban Areas, Brussels: ETSC.

  17.  DTLR (2001) Road Accidents Great Britain 2000: The Casualty Report.

  18.  Aeron Thomas, A (2000) Support and Better Treatment of Road Crash Victims—The Missing Chapter, London: RoadPeace.

  19.  Hutton, P, and Klahr, R (2001) The CfIT Report 2001: Public Attitudes to Transport in England, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  20.  DTLR (2001) Transport Statistics Information: Attitudes to Local Transport Issues.

  21.  DETR (2000) New Directions in Speed Management: A Review of Policy, London: DETR.

  22.  Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1994, 1995 edition) Eighteenth Report: Transport and the Environment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  23.  London Borough of Greenwich (1994) Breadline Greenwich.

  24.  Wyatt, E (2001) "DTLR perspective", paper given at Aston University Conference, "Managing Safety through Engineering", 21 November 2001.

  25.  DETR (2000) New Directions in Speed Management, paragraph 118.

  26.  DTLR (2001) Transport Statistics Great Britain, Table 4.12 Vehicle speeds on non-urban roads by road type and vehicle type: 2000.

  27.  DTLR (2001) Focus on Personal Travel: 2001 Edition.

  28.  Silcock, D, Smith, K, Know, D, Beuret, K (1999) What Limits Speed?: Factors that affect how fast we drive, Interim Report, Basingstoke: AA Foundation for Road Safety Research.

  29.  Kallberg, V P, Allsop, R, Ward, H, van der Horst, R and Varhelyi, A (1998) Recommendations for Speed Management Strategies and Policies, Deliverable 12, Managing Speeds of Traffic on European Roads, European Commission.

  30.  Carlsson, G (1998) "Vision Zero in perspective of global generalisation, paper to 8th La Prévention Routiãre Internationale, World Congress, Lisbon: Portugal.

  31.  Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (1997) At the start: Start up programme, Sustainable Road Safety 1997-2000, The Hague: MVW.

  32.  DETR (1999) Transport Statistics: Road Accident Statistics: Great Britain 1998.

  33.  WS Atkins (2001) European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport, Summary Report, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  34.  City of York Council (1997) Transport Policies and Programme Submission 1998-99.

  35.  Road Danger Reduction Forum (n.d.) Road Danger Reduction Charter.

  36.  DETR (2000) New Directions in Speed Management.

  37.  Kallberg, V P, Allsop, R, Ward, H, van der Horst, R and Varhelyi, A (1998) Recommendations for Speed Management Strategies and Policies, Deliverable 12, Managing Speeds of Traffic on European Roads, European Commission.

  38.  Commission for Integrated Transport (2001) European Best Practice Key Findings.

  39.  DTLR (2001) Transport Statistics Information: Attitudes to Local Transport Issues.

  40.  See

  41.  DTLR (2001) Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras: First Year Report (Executive Summary).

  42.  Plowden, S and Hillman, M (1996) Speed Control and Transport Policy, London: Policy Studies Institute.

  43.  Carlsson, G (1997) "Cost-Effectiveness of information, campaigns, enforcement and the costs and benefits of speed changes", Cost-Effectiveness of Road Safety Work and Measures Working Session 3, European Seminar in Luxembourg.


  45.  Burns, A, Johnstone, N and Macdonald, N (2001) "20 mph Speed Reduction Initiative", Research Findings No 104, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit.

  46.  DETR (2000) Tomorrow's Roads: Safer for Everyone.

  47.  Babtie Ross Silcock (2001) Development of a Rural Road Hierarchy for Speed Management, Progress Report, London, Babtie Ross Silcock.

  48.  WS Atkins (2001) European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport, Report on Stage 3: Transferability, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  49.  Local Tansport Today (2001) "Local road safety schemes enjoy 500% rate of return" Local Transport Today, 13 December 2001, page 6.

  50.  WS Atkins (2001) European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport, Report on Stage 3: Transferability, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  51.  Kirby, T (2001) Kingston-upon-Hull, personal communication, 28 June 2001.

  52.  Davis, A (2001) Killing Speed: A Good Practice Guide to Speed Management, Hereford: Slower Speeds Initiative.

  53.  Fleet News (2001) "Met police claims 25 per cent cut in its accident rate" accessed at

  54.  Work Related Road Safety Task Group (2001) Prevent at-work road traffic incidents, Discussion Document, Health and Safety Executive.

  55.  Spackman, M (2001) What Next? Closing speech at PACTS Price of a Life Conference, 16 October 2001.

  56.  WS Atkins (2001) European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport, Report on Stage 3: Transferability, London: Commission for Integrated Transport.

  57.  Babtie Ross Silcock (2001) Development of a Rural Road Hierarchy for Speed Management, Progress Report, London: Babtie Ross Silcock.

  58.  Home Office (2001) Policing a New Century: A Blueprint for Reform, Cm 3326.

  59.  Home Office (2000) Road Traffic Penalties Consultation Paper.

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