Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
220. Do you feel that in this sense local authorities,
like yourselves, are closer to public opinion than the media?
(Dr Thompson) Certainly. Local authorities have a
statutory requirement to consult on traffic calming and they go
well beyond that. That is certainly the case in Nottingham. There
is overwhelming support for schemes in that consultation process.
221. In Northamptonshire you have a programme
of diversionary speed workshops. I understand that that is an
alternative to fixed penalty notices and penalty points. Is there
any evidence of re-offending rates among drivers who have undertaken
(Mr Shortland) I am sorry to tell you that it is too
early to say, but we have instigated a research project. I shall
report those results when it comes out.
222. Have you any early indication?
(Mr Shortland) You have to give people enough time
223. Can you explain what you are doing in that
diversionary speed workshop?
(Mr Shortland) Yes. In Northamptonshire we are offering
people who have exceeded the enforced speed limits by small amounts
the alternative of going on a three-hour workshop course, instead
of paying the £60 and getting three points. We get an 86
per cent take-up rate. People have travelled from Cornwall and
Aberdeen to take part in that. The research that we have carried
out on the change in attitude that takes placewe have concluded
that researchhas shown a marked change in attitude. There
is a marked difference in the replies given on a form before they
come on the course compared with those that they fill in after
they have been on the course. I have received positive feedback
from people saying how much they welcome the course, how valuable
they felt it was and how they wish it could be available for everybody.
224. They will have saved £60.
(Mr Shortland) No, it does not save them £60.
They have to pay that as a course fee. Currently, we have put
7,000 people through that course. It has been very successful.
225. Over what period of time.
(Mr Shortland) We started in April last year and we
are running at 300 people a week.
226. I was not aware that the course fee was
£60. The speeding fine is £60 so why would 87 per cent
of drivers embark on a course that does not benefit them financially
to any degree?
(Mr Shortland) They benefit by not receiving the penalty
points. Afterwards they feel that it was worth while coming on
the course for the educational experience.
227. In Nottingham, Mr Thompson, with reference
to education on its own not being sufficient to reduce speeding,
what part do you think that the media, in particular television,
can play in trying to reduce that?
(Dr Thompson) We have a very good relationship with
the Nottingham Evening Post as part of our casualty reduction
partnership, although it is not actually within the partnership.
It has been very supportive of the casualty type approach that
we have been adopting. A simple example of what they have done
on our behalf is that in one case the newspaper distributed leaflets
and information sheets that were circulated by the vendors on
the streets so that the public were given information with the
Evening Post. It also has taken on board the case of a
young boy, Christopher Marlow, who tragically was killed in Nottingham
by a speeding motorist and it has handled that issue very sensitively
and explained why we are doing our bit to try to reduce casualties.
That is why we are carrying out the work that we do. We are in
the process of trying to prevent tragedies like poor little Christopher's
death through our actions. That is an example of positive support
that we can receive from working closely with the media. I have
to say that there have been other examples that have been totally
the reverse. We have had some very strong criticism from some
directions. Many of the criticisms have been inaccurate as well.
The reporters have not done the work in terms of finding out what
the actual findings are from the partnerships that have been operating
228. I shall direct this question to Gloucestershire.
You have submitted evidence in relation to rural speed limits.
What needs to be done to prevent the mismatch of speeds on rural
(Mr Radford) We need to continue to look at the same
principle as that which is behind the Safer City Project. We need
to look at the hierarchy and to think in terms of what traffic
the roads ought to be carrying and then look to direction signing
as appropriate, so that we do not sign traffic through routes
that are unsuitable for people who are following signs. Generally,
they tend to be the long-distance driver. Then we need to rationalise
the current problem with the national derestriction sign. The
national derestriction signthe white disc with a slash
through itsimply means that the national speed limit applies.
On a single carriageway that is 60 miles per hour. As we try to
control speeds on some of our lower grade A roads and B roads
with 50 miles per hour limits, we have a problem when a driver
turns off into a country lane and sees the national speed limit
sign which means 60 miles per hour. I do not know that that is
a big problem in terms of engineering; I think it is more of an
education problem. Drivers are being given the wrong message.
When they turn off a main road the sign does not suggest any speed
and it is not giving any advice. In fact, it suggests that you
can forget about controlling your speed now and drive as appropriate.
Maybe driving as appropriate is a good thing, but perhaps we should
look for some new kind of signs when entering rural lanes similar
to that which is a combined advice and speed limit sign, but that
would have to be backed up by some change in the national derestriction
229. Do you think that that can be achieved
through the rural road hierarchy?
(Mr Radford) The rural road hierarchy is a good template
for thinking about the problem. That is the rural road hierarchy
suggested in the Babtie Ross Silcock report.
230. Who is responsible for implementing it?
(Mr Radford) With regard to the national speed limit,
it would have to be done by Government; it would have to be done
centrally. But the implementation of the hierarchy is something
that the local authority would have to devise.
231. In a nutshell, what do you believe that
the Government should do to reduce the casualties?
(Mr Radford) I suppose to continue to support the
work that the local authorities are doing and provide the local
authorities with the resources to put ahead some of the ideas
that the authorities have. The netting off scheme, for example,
is an excellent opportunity for local authorities to take more
control over how to manage speed in their areas and to come up
with their own strategies.
232. Did your local authority come up with its
own strategy? Do you see no need for national guidance or national
(Mr Radford) Absolutely. There has to be national
guidance. By saying that local authorities should come up with
their own hierarchy, I meant within that framework. They need
to look at roads and traffic movements in their areas and that
cannot be done on a national scale. That would be within a speed
framework guidance based on the research that, say, Babtie Ross
Silcock are doing.
233. We understand that the Home Secretary wishes
to raise the motorway speed to 80 miles per hour. What will be
the effect of that move on the number of casualties?
(Mr Shortland) It will increase them.
234. Will it be possible to enforce strictly
an 80 miles per hour limit?
(Mr Shortland) It will technically be possible, yes.
235. Do you have evidence to support what you
have just said, relating to the number of accidents?
(Mr Shortland) I can supply that, yes.
236. I am still doing my sums. To return to
the savings, if there are significant savings to the health authorities
from the reduction in the numbers that you have described, and
if there are significant savings to police authorities due to
the reduction of call-outs to accidents, do you feel that those
authorities, as well as your authority, should have a responsibility
for monitoring the financial impact that the reduction of speed
(Mr Shortland) I think that the police certainly have
a monitoring role. In Northamptonshire the health authority is
keen to take part in that and has agreed to provide figures on
the number of beds saved.
237. That is helpful. What about Nottingham?
(Dr Thompson) That process is currently being investigated
by the two area health authority. Since about September last year
the two area health authorities have joined the casualty reduction
partnership that operates the netting off process. They are giving
a commitment to being active members in that partnership. That
is one of the areas that they want to address. At the moment it
is difficult to establish within their computing systems the tie-up
between casualties that they receive from their hospital system
with the kind of information that we have in terms of road traffic
238. Have the police put a figure on it?
(Dr Thompson) The police would have to put a nominal
figure on the reduction in call-out times and come up with an
estimate in terms of savings. Certainly, if we look in terms of
the casualty savings that we are talking about, there must be
a knock-on effect to the health service and to the police service.
239. What about Gloucestershire?
(Mr Radford) In Gloucestershire we are not yet involved
in the netting off process, but we hope to form a partnership
with the health authority and to do that kind of research. The
health authority can identify accident and emergency victims who
are the result of a road traffic accident, so the information
is available, but it has not yet been put in a form that is generally