Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Slower Speeds Initiative (IT 79)


  I write with reference to your Committee's inquiry into the above, with some comments on behalf of the Slower Speeds Initiative.

  Our organisation was founded early this year because members felt that speed was being neglected as a major factor within Transport policy.

  It has important implications for:

    —  Vehicle technology and design.

    —  Road safety.

    —  Transport choice, both locally and nationally.

    —  Vehicle emissions.

    —  Law and order.

    —  Health.

    —  Noise.

    —  Transport spending.

    —  Personal freedoms.

  These issues are discussed in our 4-page Policy Briefing No. 1, copies of which we are happy to supply. Each of these need to be integrated into the White Paper's policies.

  We also published a leaflet, "Why Reduce Traffic Speeds?", which has proved to be extremely popular and had to be re-printed twice with a few months. This leaflet asks organisations to consider endorsing the Initiative's aims, and replies to this are now coming in.

  There has already been a gratifying response from local government, with general support of our programme from authorities as diverse as Falkirk, Devon, Oxford, Darlington, Harlow, Wear Valley and Pendle. West Lothian Council has offered to host a conference on our behalf for Scottish authorities. We also have a volunteer—co-ordinated branch of our body for the West Midlands.

  From our correspondence and contacts to date, the following emerge as key issues to which we would draw your Committee's attention:


  Speeding and rat-running car and lorry traffic poses a quite unacceptable threat to children, the elderly, local residents, pedestrians and cyclists. There is a rising tide of public anger that communities and individuals should be menaced—on life and death issues—in this way.


  Although often thought of as mostly urban issues speeding, inconsiderate driving and driving in a manner highly inappropriate to local road conditions, are now of major concern to the inhabitants of villages and country areas.


  Though very sympathetic to the benefits of lower speeds, the police appear to have totally inadequate resources to enforce these or even existing limits. This is a problem to which we draw the Committee's attention.

  There is an almost universal consensus that a great deal more could be done in this area with wider use of speed cameras. This could be achieved if police forces were able to recoup the administrative costs—and these only—instead of as at present having to forfeit all revenues. We understand this proposal has DETR and Home Office support. We are very concerned at apparent Treasury delay on this matter, and ask the Committee to investigate this issue as a matter of urgency.


  Local authorities have told us that they are overwhelmed with requests for traffic calming, road re-design and safety improvement measures. At current levels of funding these would take decades to implement. The Government should ensure that Speed Management Plans are an important part of the forthcoming guidance on Local Transport Plans—and that they are financially resourced effectively within the LTP system.


  It is highly ironic that much of the public spending just discussed is directed at slowing down cars specifically designed by the private sector to travel at very high speeds and be capable of rapid acceleration.

  The Initiative believes that vehicle technology should be much more fully integrated into wider discussions about Transport policy. All current discussions about "greener vehicles" should include issues of speed and power.

  It is widely accepted that the technology for speed-limiters for cars is now properly developed. The Initiative urges that wide-ranging trials of such limiters—internally and externally operated—should be instigated in the full range of highway circumstances.

  In the light of the above the Initiative was delighted that the Government took the opportunity of the White Paper to announce a national review of speed policy. (Chapter 3 p. 84.) The Slower Speeds Initiative welcomes this move and congratulates the DETR on its action.

  As a result we have written to the Minister for Roads & Road Safety outlining the Initiative's views on what we feel the Review should cover.

  I enclose a copy of our thoughts, and hope they bring home to Committee members the many various and important aspects of Speed Policy. We feel these should be fully integrated into not only the forthcoming Road Safety strategy and guidance on Local Transport Plans but into many wider aspects of the White Paper itself.

Don Mathew


Slower Speeds Initiative

23 September 1998

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