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

Annex 2



  The Department recommends the use of 20 mph zones with suitable self enforcement through engineering measures. These use proven techniques known to save significant numbers of casualties. 20 mph limits alone without traffic calming should only be used where vehicle speeds are already relatively low, generally not higher than 24 mph. Legislation was introduced in 1999 to allow local authorities to introduce these measures without the Secretary of State's consent. Suitable signs were introduced and guidance was issued at the same time. 20 mph zones and 20 mph speed limits continue to be highly successful in managing speed in residential and other urban areas. Because 20 mph zones are self enforcing they function all the time, and to be effective they do not require additional police resources or speed cameras.

  Other forms of traffic calming using humps, speed cushions and horizontal deflections and markings continue to be effective in encouraging compliance with speed limits in urban areas with 30 mph speed limits.

  High streets with mixed traffic and diverse use present a particularly challenging combination of safety problems, and five demonstration schemes to improve safety on mixed priority urban routes were announced on 27 November 2001, funded by DTLR grant totalling £5.5 million. Schemes are aimed at improving safety and amenity for vulnerable road users and reducing the impact on communities where main roads pass through areas where other activity also takes place. This includes areas around shops, homes, schools, and places of evening entertainment. Two of the five demonstration sites are in inner city areas: Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, and Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester. The others are Crewe, Cheshire, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and the City of Norwich.

  Home Zones are redesigned streets in residential areas. The aim is to change the way streets are used to improve the quality of life by making them places for people, not just for traffic. This usually includes design measures to reduce vehicle speeds to below 10 mph. The road space is shared between motorised traffic and other road users and the design of schemes takes account of the wider needs of residents and those on foot or bicycle, and particularly children. Whilst Home zones may confer road safety benefits they are not primarily road safety measures.

  The Home Zone Challenge experience should increase our knowledge about how best to actively involve local community interests in developing home zones that suit their needs and aspirations. It will identify design processes that can lead to successful new ways of using residential streets and will help to identify and expand the range of solutions and constructional techniques available.


  The VISP study (Wheeler et al 1994) is an example of the challenges faced in the development of acceptable and effective measures for reducing speeds in rural villages and other areas. Rural speed management measures that are finding acceptance are:

    —  Countdown signs and carriageway roundels have a limited effect on speeds and are best used in association with other measures such as gateways.

    —  Vehicle activated signs have been used in recent trials in advance of bends or junctions or to remind drivers of the speed limit. The sign is activated by the speed of an approaching vehicle exceeding the "trigger" speed. Findings from the trial are being studied before a decision on their general use is taken.

    —  Road markings have been used to good effect for changing the nature and appearance of a road, and the speed at which people choose to drive. A good example is hatched centre line markings that can give the impression that roads are narrower and therefore improve driver discipline. Research is currently in progress to see how road markings at bends could give better guidance to drivers.

Good Practice Guide

  In June 2001 DTLR published A Road Safety Good Practice Guide covering all aspects of design and engineering for safety on urban and rural roads (DTLR 2001b). This document is the First Edition and was planned as a living reference that will be maintained and updated as new research evidence and experience becomes available and is translated into advice. The document is accessible in full on the DTLR website under Road Safety.

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