Memorandum by The Freight Transport Association
ROAD TRAFFIC SPEED
The FTA welcomes this opportunity to submit
evidence to the Committee for its inquiry into Road Traffic Speed.
The Freight Transport Association represents
the transport interests of over 11,000 British businesses, ranging
from small family firms to multi-national blue chip companies
using all modes of transport; road, rail, air and sea. A road
network that is safe, reliable and predictable is very important
in sustaining efficient supply chains for industry, it is vital
for competitiveness and business communications. FTA members operate
over 200,000 heavy goods vehicles.
FTA's evidence focuses on goods vehicle road
FTA believes that influencing driver behaviour
is a crucial element of speed management. Driver behaviour in
relation to speed and speed limits and the critical importance
of the appropriate speed within the legal maximum, feature prominently
in FTA's management and driver training services. It is an integral
feature of FTA's "Well Driven" scheme embracing both
HGVs and light vans and FTA's best practice on Urban Friendly
Deliveries underlines the importance of safe and courteous driving,
particularly on urban roads.
A careful balance needs to be struck between
safety on the one hand and reliability and overall journey time
on the other, to ensure the competitiveness of business and the
economy as a whole. Reduction in speed limits prolong journey
times and increase costs. The propensity of reduced speed limits
(often caused by congested roads at peak hours) is a critical
consideration in relation to business travel and particularly
goods vehicle journeys. There is a good correlation between efficiency
and reliability of the road network (expressed in average speeds,
journey times and reliability of journey times) and the number
of vehicles and journeys, hence total vehicle-kilometres incurred
by industry in meeting the economy's requirements for freight
movement. Put simply lower speeds = less efficient road network
= increased vehicle-kilometres and vice versa. But the implications
extend beyond increased costs for industry. Increased vehicle-kilometres
could be counter-productive in road safety terms. Hence the need
for recognition that adverse consequences in terms of increased
costs and increased accidents could arise from reductions in speed
The proposed introduction of the requirement
under EU legislation to extend the fitment of speed limiters to
vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will have a significant effect on journey
times and driver behaviour. The proposed introduction date is
January 2004, from which all new vehicles would be fitted with
limiters set at 90 kph (56 mph). All existing vehicles registered
on or after 1st January 2001 would require speed limiters to be
fitted by 1st January 2005.
In practice this means that vehicles between
3.5 and 7.5 tonnes would be limited to speed that is 14 mph below
the current limit and vehicles between 7.5 and 12 tonnes would
be limited to a speed 4 mph below the current limit. FTA is particularly
concerned about the impact of the reduction in speed for those
vehicles in the 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes range.
A direct result of these lower limits will be
significant bunching and congestion on major two lane dual carriageways
such as A14 and A1, and on motorways where the outer lane of three
or more lanes can be used by vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. This will
have a significant commercial impact as well as the likely antagonistic
effect on car driver behaviour which could impact on road safety.
The speed limit on rural single carriageway
roads is 40 mph. The Speed Policy Review Discussion Paper in 1999
said that between 60 and 70 per cent of HGVs exceeded this limit.
This reflects the speed at which drivers choose to travel in free
flowing traffic when their behaviour is not influenced by congestion,
enforcement or other road conditions. These examples of excess
speed do not appear to have any detrimental affects on the accident
rates involving such vehicles on single carriageway roads.
It is important to remember that HGVs are restricted
to lower speed limits than cars on single carriageway roads. This
20 mph differential often impacts on the behaviour of car drivers
and can lead to risk taking manoeuvres to overtake HGVs.
In considering illegal and inappropriate road
speed in relation to heavy goods vehicles, it is important to
look at accident involvement rates.
Heavy goods vehicles have the lowest accident
involvement rate and light goods vehicles the second lowest accident
involvement rate among all vehicle classes. (Transport Statistics
Great Britain: 2000Road accident casualties by road user
type and severity 1989-1999). This record shows a good road safety
record in comparative terms, but is no cause for complacency and
FTA will support all practical policies to achieve a further reduction
in goods vehicle accident involvement rates.
FTA recognises that road re-design and traffic
calming measures are used as a means of reducing speed in urban
areas, small towns and villages, however, such measures can cause
significant problems to commercial vehicles. Road humps cause
damage to the suspension of commercial vehicles, increase noise
in the locality and increase pollution as a result of the vehicle
braking and accelerating. Pinch points also cause increased pollution
from vehicle braking and acceleration and, where pinch points
are located in close proximity in a zig-zag configuration, major
traffic disruption can occur because articulated vehicles are
unable to move through the zig-zag without driving into the path
of on-coming traffic. Such traffic calming schemes that are aimed
at tackling road speed should be carefully considered, bearing
in mind the types of traffic (heavy goods vehicles, local authority
service vehicles and emergency vehicles) using the road.
FTA recognises that it is necessary to deter
speeding through increasing the risk of getting caught. Enforcement
resources and measures should be focused at locations where the
problems of non-compliance and associated accidents are greatest.
We have serious reservations about arguments in favour of blanket
zero tolerance enforcement policies.
In considering this evidence, the committee
should recognise the speed related issues impacting on goods vehicles,
Influencing driver behaviour is a
crucial element of speed management policy. It features prominently
in FTA management driver training and best practice initiatives.
There is a correlation between road
network efficiency (of which journey speed and reliability are
key criteria) and goods vehicle-kilometres and accidents.
The extension of speed limiter technology
to vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes will have both a commercial
impact and detrimental effect on road safety.
Speed limits on single carriageway
rural roads is 20 mph lower than that for car drivers, which can
impact on car driver behaviour.
Goods vehicles have the lowest accident
involvement rates among all classes of vehiclebut all practical
measures to achieve further improvements should be considered.
The use of road re-design and traffic
calming measures as a means of traffic speed constraint should
be considered carefully bearing in mind the detrimental effect
for commercial vehicles.
Enforcement should be targeted to
ensure best use of resources and optimum results in terms of compliance
and accident reduction.