Memorandum by the Slower Speeds Initiative
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
I write with reference to your Committee's inquiry
into the above, with some comments on behalf of the Slower Speeds
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.
Transport choice, both locally and
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 volunteerco-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 menacedon
life and death issuesin this way.
2. RURAL LIFE
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 costsand these onlyinstead
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 Plansand that they are financially
resourced effectively within the LTP system.
5. VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY
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 limitersinternally
and externally operatedshould 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
Slower Speeds Initiative
23 September 1998