Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-199)



Mr Cummings

  180. How important are these bids to the success of the various initiatives that you have embarked upon? What happens when the bidding stops?
  (Dr Thompson) Certain funds are available to highway authorities that are achieved through competitive bidding processes. The homes zone is an example of that. There are funding schemes that have been made available to highway authorities through the local transport plan settlements. In Nottingham we are very grateful to the Government for the increased spending that has occurred through that process. In the past three years, when the city took over unitary authority status, we had a local safety scheme budget of £286,000 per annum. The current settlement for Nottingham in the coming financial year is £1.2 million. On top of that about £375,000 will be spent on safer routes to schools and on top of that there are the bids that you have mentioned.

Dr Pugh

  181. Is there any empirical evidence to show that the safer route to school scheme reduces the number of casualties or does it simply reduce the congestion? In evaluating the scheme are you aware that it reduces collision accidents with children, or does it simply reduce the amount of congestion?
  (Mr Shortland) We have some empirical evidence to that effect. Schemes that we have introduced in Northamptonshire have reduced road casualties.

Christine Russell

  182. My first question is what have you done with residents' cars in areas where you have introduced either traffic calming or home zones? Inevitably, such schemes mean that in certain areas, such as those with Victorian terraces, you displace residents' cars. My second question is to ask whether you have incorporated within your traffic calming schemes and home zones any kind of enforcement like cameras? How do you get round the problem of the boy-racers weaving around cushions?
  (Mr Radford) Perhaps we are fortunate with the housing in areas where we have carried out traffic calming in that we have not had too many problems with residential parking. With regard to the abuse of the calmed areas, we are experimenting with cameras that photograph your number plate when you enter a road and when you leave it. We are using that to enforce a 20 miles per hour restriction in some areas.

Helen Jackson

  183. To follow up on the cost issue, you mentioned a 50 per cent reduction in casualties through your traffic calming measures. To what extent is the health authority monitoring that in terms of the cost of visits to the A&E department in a hospital? Are such figures decreasing?
  (Dr Thompson) Currently there is no monitoring taking place of that process within the area health authority within Nottingham. We monitor it in terms of the casualty savings that are achieved by introducing these schemes. Earlier someone asked about the economic value of introducing that type of scheme. All the schemes are yielding an economic rate of return of more than 100 per cent.

  184. That is in your terms. The health authority is not monitoring it?
  (Dr Thompson) Not in our area.
  (Mr Shortland) In Northamptonshire we are carrying out some monitoring. Recently, I received the figures for A & E at a certain hospital and they have shown a 15 per cent reduction over the past year.

  185. What does that represent in their financial terms?
  (Mr Shortland) In financial terms it does not mean much to them because the number of admissions through the A & E department are taken up by people going there for other reasons. They still provide the same emergency health service.

  186. If people do not get hurt on the road they are determined to get hurt in some other way.
  (Mr Shortland) It may mean that one may have a two-hour wait in A & E rather than a four-hour wait.

  187. That is important. Mr Radford, you threw out the figure of £1 million as being the cost of a fatal casualty. To what extent is that a health figure or a transport figure?
  (Mr Radford) It is a combination. It is a nominal figure that local authorities use; it is a national figure produced by the department that local authorities use to try to estimate the cost of preventing road accidents. It is made up of a number of things, including pain and suffering, which are difficult to quantify, emergency services' costs and a component for the ambulance service. I do not have an exact figure, but there is a breakdown available from the department as Highways Economic Note No. 1.

  188. What part do pedestrians play in this? Many accidents are labelled as "pedestrian at fault".
  (Mr Radford) Yes, working in road safety, that is one of the things that has struck me for a long while. When the motor car was first invented, it was considered so dangerous to pedestrians that someone had to run in front of it with a red flag and it was restricted to four miles per hour. We have almost gone in the opposite direction now. Pedestrians are expected to keep out of the way of a vehicle and if a pedestrian gets in the way of a vehicle it is the pedestrian's fault. My feeling is that if drivers are using their cars in areas where pedestrians are present they should be more responsible and they should be more prepared to stop, which means driving at a lower speed. That is what plans for traffic calming in urban areas and speed management is all about.

  189. Is there any evidence that a focus on traffic calming makes pedestrians more careful as well?
  (Mr Radford) I do not know that there is, no. It simply allows more interaction between the pedestrian and the driver because it reduces the driver's speed to a scale where pedestrians can interact with the driver of the vehicle.

  190. In regard to Nottingham or Northamptonshire, we have talked about speed bumps and humps. Why is it necessary to supplement those measures with cameras as well. Why are the engineering works not sufficient in themselves?
  (Dr Thompson) We do not put cameras on the same routes as traffic calming. Traffic calming measures are used in residential areas and the enforcement cameras are used on the routes where the traffic calming measures are not appropriate.

  191. Is that the same in each of your authorities?
  (Mr Shortland) I was interested to hear David say that they are enforcing a 20 miles per hour zone with cameras. None of our enforcement takes place in traffic calming areas, no.

Mr O'Brien

  192. Following the point that has just been made, what lessons can be learned from your experience in Nottinghamshire with safety camera schemes?
  (Dr Thompson) As you are aware, Nottingham is one of the eight pilots that was involved in testing the process of "netting off". As a result of the experiences in Nottingham and in the other seven pilot areas—one is here in the shape of Jon—we have clearly demonstrated an acceptability of the process within the public's eyes. But more importantly we have demonstrated that it works in terms of casualty savings. The benefits of this process rolled out nationally will be one of the most significant improvements from a road-safety point of view that has ever been introduced.
  (Mr Shortland) I would certainly agree with that. We have achieved casualty savings of 67 per cent where fixed cameras have been introduced. We have achieved a 29 per cent casualty reduction across the whole county through the use of mobile cameras and we are achieving a 500 per cent rate of return on that money invested.

  193. Can you tie that to any particular issue that would highlight some of the successes?
  (Mr Shortland) The fact that the casualty figures in Northamptonshire are now 29 per cent below the Government's baseline for 1994 to 1998 and that that reduction has coincided with the introduction of cameras speaks for itself. It is making a massive difference.

  194. You put it all down to speed cameras?
  (Mr Shortland) Not all of it. But we have never had falls of this order before and we have not had cameras before. There is certainly a correlation between the two.

  195. What about Tuxford on the A1 where there is a 50 miles per hour limit?
  (Dr Thompson) That is not Nottingham. That is Nottinghamshire and I represent Nottingham City.

  196. What about Mr Shortland?
  (Mr Shortland) I represent Northamptonshire.

  197. On the A1 there is a 50 miles per hour scheme with four cameras, two on either side of the road. But no one knows about that?
  (Dr Thompson) I do not think any of us can comment on that because it is not in our area of responsibility.

  198. Whose area would it be?
  (Dr Thompson) From the camera experiences that we have had, we could say that casualty savings are evident in all of the areas where cameras have been implemented. The information that I have presented—I believe that Jon has done the same—shows the kind of savings that there are from introducing digital cameras. That evidence is available.


  199. Do you think that those savings will continue into the future, or are they one-off savings? You have had a lot of publicity for them. Do you think that they have had more impact than if they had been rolled out nationally or if you were doing it again in five years' time?
  (Mr Shortland) I would expect it to level off and to reach a plateau where we have affected the speed-related accidents and that it would get to a level where we cannot affect those any more. Certainly the second year's decrease under the camera project was more than the first year's decrease. So the tailing off certainly has not started yet.

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