Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-379)|
WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2002
360. Over what period?
(Ms McMahon) A year.
361. I am just wondering, therefore, what discussions
you have had with the Chancellor of Exchequer about the urgency
of extending that experience not to just your department but to
the Health Department and the Home Office, where resources are
stretched in those areas of extending it rapidly in more areas?
(Mr Spellar) That has already been taken into account
because it is extremely unusual, as you will know, for the Treasury
to agree to any degree of hypothecation and, therefore, the netting-off
scheme of the fines that have been collected for the management,
capital installation and operation of the camera system is extremely
unusual. That is a recognition of the cost effectiveness of this,
and I think that is now being understood by other authorities.
We are in negotiations with a considerable number of other police
forces in order to be able to extend this scheme elsewhere.
Chairman: I am going to have to ask you for
a little bit more precision in your answers.
362. With reference to speed cameras, you have
a number of cases where changes in circumstances of roads create
potential risks but have yet to do sofor example, a major
new development that is going to increase traffic along a road.
A case like that seems to be a situation where it is still not
possible to put in a speed camera because there have not been
any accidents yet. Is that not putting the cart before the horse?
(Mr Spellar) No. That would be an option to the local
authority and the local police force. It is for them to evaluate
363. There are no central guidelines?
(Mr Spellar) There is no restriction on them in looking
at that but obviously they need to be looking at where they would
achieve the greatest effectiveness in terms of reducing casualties.
As you rightly say, they are able to look at a new development
taking place which may lead to substantial increase in traffic
and a possible range of difficulty therefore changing the circumstances
on that road, but the first priority is quite bluntly looking
at the evidence base of the high levels of accident incidents
and, therefore, where speed is a significant factor in order to
364. The Transport Research Laboratory says
that, if £3 billion were spent in changes in engineering
and design, deaths and serious injuries could be reduced by 16
per cent. Do you agree with that?
(Mr Spellar) Obviously we rely on the scientific reports
that we get.
365. Does that mean yes?
(Mr Spellar) Yes.
366. Where, then, has that £3 billion been
incorporated in the ten year plan?
(Mr Spellar) Local transport plans and Highways Agency
plans are involved not just with new road building or the maintenance
of existing roads but also the re-design of roads or the provision
of additional road capacity. A lot of the applications that we
have from local authorities under local transport plans for bypasses
are partly about relieving traffic congestion but also, quite
often, about dealing with removing dangerous traffic situations.
367. Are you satisfied that sufficient funding
has been provided in the ten year plan to deal with changes of
the sort advocated?
(Mr Spellar) We could always do with more but
368. But are you satisfied?
(Mr Spellar)equally we are looking at very
significant expenditure. For example, over the last couple of
years, the amount of money allocated for local transport plans
has doubled, and many of the roads that you are describing are,
in fact, local roads and we are now getting this growing disparity,
for example, between urban and rural roadsnot that the
situation is not improving on rural roads but it is not improving
as fast as our success rate on inter-urban and urban roads.
369. But does the amount you have provided for
local plans and for design changes equate with the findings of
the Transport Road Research Laboratory?
(Mr Spellar) We believe it is a significant investment
and will make a very significant improvement. I am sure we could
find additional schemes for which additional money would be appropriate
but we need to be striking a balance between the various modes
of transport within our transport budget. I think it provides
for a considerable improvement in many roads.
370. So it is improvement, even if not enough.
Now, in the Government's reply to your previous report on walking
in towns and cities, we were told that the Ministry would be issuing
guidance on more friendly transport design and looking at the
interests of other road users. When is that guidance going to
(Mr Spellar) We will have to send you a note as to
the actual timing on that. We are working on that.
371. What will it be saying?
(Mr Spellar) Essentially we will be looking at road
design and urban design, and the extent to which, therefore, that
can be more encouraging to pedestrians to reduce, where possible,
conflict between pedestrians and traffic and the extent to which,
for example, traffic calming methods or safer zones or, indeed,
in some urban areasparticularly near schools but in others
as well20 mph limits combined with traffic calming measures
may be appropriate in order to reduce risk to pedestrians. For
precisely the reasons that the Chairman said, while we have a
very successful record of reducing car collisions, we are less
successful on pedestrians and particularly children.
372. Which local authorities have provided the
best examples of local transport plans looking at safety issues?
(Ms McMahon) We are doing an assessment of their plans
at the moment so I cannot answer that question just yet.
373. Is there nothing that has happened up to
now that has impressed you from anywhere?
(Ms McMahon) I would not like to single out any particular
374. Could you give us a note on that because
presumably, with that assessment going on at the moment, you could
tell us quite quickly?
(Ms McMahon) Yes.
375. Minister, there have been some press reports
and discussion on increasing the speed limit on motorways. Should
motorway speed limits be raised to 80 mph?
(Mr Spellar) We are in agreement with our Home Office
colleagues that there should be no increase in the motorway speed
376. Would there be any time saved on journeys
if it was raised?
(Mr Spellar) In a number of areas it is the flow of
traffic that is significant. As we have seen, for example, on
the western section of the M25, keeping all the traffic moving
at roughly the same speed can ensure more predictable journeys
and probably quicker journeys than having vehicles stopping and
starting, and also a much wider difference in speed between different
vehicles which is one of the considerations that leads to high
rates of crashes.
377. On that particular point, is it assumed
then that the three lanes on a motorwayor two of them at
leastwould be used with a maximum speed limit for all vehicles?
(Mr Spellar) Within the speed limits vehicles obviously
have to drive in accordance both with the road conditions and
also with the position of other vehicles.
378. In the evidence that you submitted on Highways
Economics 1/2000 there are tables which demonstrate that the average
value of prevention of accident severity on motorways is less
than on rural roads. If we are saying, then, that rural roads
are where the speeds are at 30, 20 or maybe 40 miles an hour yet
the average for prevention there is greater in rural areas than
on motorways, is there some correlation there between trying to
raise the speed on motorways to try and move traffic further?
(Mr Spellar) No. Traffic flow on motorways is extremely
important but our view, looking at the evidence on both environmental
grounds and safety, and also having consulted with the motoring
organisations and others, is that the current speed limit is appropriate
on the motorways. As you rightly say, they are far and away the
safest roads although, of course, there is obviously less conflict
with pedestrians in that area which is the difficulty on other
roads, or indeed the particular problems we have on many rural
roads where, as I said, our rate of success has not been as great
as on urban and motorways.
379. What estimate has been made for additional
accidents or loss of lives if it was raised to 80 mph? Has there
been an assessment made?
(Mr Waddams) Can I clarify the question?