Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280-294)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
280. What was the outcome?
(Mr Roberts-James) The outcome was that we had a very
comprehensive and far-reaching debate. There were a range of interest
groups involved in this; as I mentioned in my introduction we
believe that the issue of speed is about more than simply safety,
so we had representatives from the Freight Transport Association,
the Slower Speeds Initiative, the Countryside Agency, the Highways
Agency, and so on, and the outcomes, really, can probably be categorised
in three areas: one relating to resources, I mentioned already
human resources and the issue of capital revenue; the second point
really relates to technique and research, I have mentioned we
feel the need for a practical demonstration project on rural safety
management technique across a whole route and/or looking at roads
of different capacity and purpose so that we are looking at what
measures are appropriate for different types of rural roads, primarily
beneath the level of motorway we would probably discount them.
A major issue really relates to public acceptance and government
activity in relation to public attitudes and behaviour. I think
we felt that there is a particular problem with policy presentation
and in respect of public acceptance of some of what has been proposed
in relation to speed, whereas, generally speaking, if you ask
anybodyWendy has some interesting data she might be able
to refer to in a momentwhat they are bothered about, they
are bothered about speed. But, in terms of the tabloid media,
you would think that is not the case; that any measure to restrict
speed is restricting personal freedom. There are some issues there.
One of the conclusions we reached concerned enforcement, enforcement
of road traffic regulations and traffic law. I think that we need
to, as a society, get away from this position where speeding is
seen as just slightly bending the law as opposed to breaking it.
There is a difference in relation to speeding and alcohol in that
281. I am a little bit worried about the time,
will it be possible to let us have a note on the rest of it?
(Mr Roberts-James) We intend to do that.
282. With regard to the fact that road safety
on rural roads is highlighted by the Society and we are expecting
more growth on rural roads does that mean to say we are going
to have more accidents?
(Mr Roberts-James) I think it does, yes.
283. The time scale that your conference revealed
yesterday, is there a time scale set to reduce those accidents?
Time is important.
(Mr Roberts-James) Absolutely. There were some major
issues discussed in some detail yesterday, one related to the
development of a rural road hierarchy for speed management, and
you have heard something about that from previous witnesses. There
is a programme of work on that and it needs to be developed promptly
so that we have this vision of where we should be going in relation
to speed. There is an important issue there. The other side of
the coin is to have a better understanding of what best practice
really is in terms of some of these roads because we know much
less about speed management on high capacity and rural roads than
we do about speed management in urban areas, ie through Home Zones.
Mr O'Brien: Could you put the view of your Society
in the paper that Chairman has requested?
284. My question is to the IHT, you tell the
Committee that the public has not really bought into the road
safety camera scheme, what evidence do you have to support that
claim, because the Committee has received both oral and written
evidence to the contrary?
(Mr Roberts-James) In terms of individuals, when asked
about safety cameras, then a positive reaction is obtained. In
terms of the national position, certainly in certain types of
the media, there is a clear indication of a distrust of speed
cameras. That was, perhaps, the point being made, a distrust that
they were there for the purpose they are intended for in respect
of casualty reduction rather than revenue raising. There are proportions
of the public in different categories, perhaps, who do have concerns
285. Do you have any real hard evidence to support
what you are saying?
(Mr Roberts-James) No hard evidence to indicate that
there is a ground swell of public opinion against speed cameras,
because that would not be the case, but there is plenty of evidence
to indicate that a large part of the media are opposed to these
and raising concerns amongst the public that may or may not be
(Ms Broome) I have evidence of surveys in Essex which
show very clearly very high levels of public support for cameras.
286. A high level.
(Ms Broome) 76 per cent of drivers believing that
cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limit, not
to punish them; 72 per cent of drivers believing that cameras
are there for accident reduction reasons.
287. And the public?
(Ms Broome) These are members of the public who drive,
288. How does the ordinary man and women in
the street view the cameras?
(Ms Broome) These are people surveyed in shopping
centres in Essex.
289. As far as this evidence that you are talking
about is concerned, how far do the same people give you those
results when they are being questioned but observe the speed limits
when they are driving?
(Mr Roberts-James) Evidence shows that substantial
proportions of the public, I do not have the percentage figure
that was used at the seminar yesterday, do drive at inappropriate
or at excessive speeds for too much of the time. There is a situation
where people may support speed cameras and certain traffic measures
so long as it applies to somebody else, which is true of many
aspects of traffic management practice at the moment.
(Mr Askew) We recently introduced a speed limit in
Devon in a village which has been campaigning for it for many
years. Because the village had been very vociferous in it we produced
it without, perhaps, the normal full level of consultation with
the villagers than we would have otherwise have taken. Within
a month of it being introduced 53 per cent of those booked were
local drivers, including some of the campaigners. I know that
is not an isolated experience.
290. How has that gone down with the campaigners,
have they accepted it?
(Mr Askew) They were very ashamed at the publicity
291. Mr Robert-James, your memorandum gave the
impression that you feel road travel is the only form of safety
area where the government has not made it a priority, a large
emphasise is spent on the railways and there does not seem to
the same emphasis on the roads. Do you think the government has
the political will to address the issue of road safety?
(Mr Roberts-James) I would like to think it has. It
will take perseverance and commitment and it will take a concerted
effort to deal with some very strong vested interest. I cannot
comment personally on whether or not the Government has sufficient
commitment. What is important, in looking at safety across the
modes, is to actually have a clear understanding of the benefits
that can be achieved from investment so you understand in an objective
and a data-led way whether or not you are spending money wisely,
and whether or not you are getting the maximum benefits in terms
of whatever your objectives may be, in this case casualty reduction.
What we call for is a proper appraisal of value-for-money and
best value in expenditure on safety because, quite clearly, there
is a significant return on investment in local safety schemes
on highways, and in terms of area-wide road safety management
292. Can I lastly ask youand I declare
an interest in that I have just introduced a 10 minute Rule Bill
on the subject30 mph repeater signs many authorities want
to introduce them, probably not in a mandatory form but have the
option of using them on problematic pieces of road where there
is no real clear, visible indication of what the speed limit is
and the nature of the road can be confusing. What is your view
about how effective 30 mph repeater signs could be and their desirability?
(Mr Roberts-James) Firstly, I think there is an urban
design consideration. It is important that the traffic management
profession and traffic management practice actually seeks to avoid
clutter and to come up with solutions that are easy to maintain
and are not visually intrusive. I want to be convinced that 30
mph repeater signals would not be unduly visually intrusive in
particular areas. There is also the issue that specifying speed
limits in certain areas actually encourages people to drive up
to those when they may not otherwise be doing so, that is the
difference between appropriate speed and the speed limits. Generally
speaking we need to have an understanding of what extra burden
that would place, in terms of on-going maintenance, and the like.
Generally speaking it would be specific to particular lengths
of roads, depending on the problems. If that is a better solution
or a potential solution compared to other physical measures that
might be suitable. I would always have at the forefront of "urban
design", and whether or not that was appropriate.
293. How much does it cost to put up a repeater
(Mr Roberts-James) That might depend where you are.
(Mr Askew) The costs of an individual repeater sign
is not great to have one manufactured. The one off cost would
be greater, it is £40 to £50 per sign. We would have
grave concerns about the use of 30 mph repeater signs, as soon
as you introduce them on one stretch of the road that has the
problem you are then swamped with demands to put them on all road
or people will assume because there are not 30 mph repeater signs
they are not there. You need to look at other methods.
294. The 80 mph on motorways, which we are told
the Home Secretary wants, if they were vigorously enforced, would
be better than an advisory limit of 70 mph, with quite a lot of
people going substantially over the top.
(Mr Roberts-James) The Institution would not support
raising the speed limit from 70 to 80 full stop.
(Mr Palmer) Likewise the IHIE would not support that.
Chairman: Can I thank you all for your evidence.