Memorandum by West Yorkshire Road Safety
Strategy Group (RTS 15)
ROAD TRAFFIC SPEEDS
The role of illegal and inappropriate speed
in respect of causing crashes, and the severity of accidents;
reducing the quality of life in urban areas; and the consequences
of illegal and inappropriate speed for urban design.
It is clear from the outset that much more needs
to be done nationally in terms of appropriate publicity to inform
road users of the concerns that speed brings to local communities
and of the increases in road injuries that are brought about by
illegal and/or inappropriate speed. That includes information
on what are illegal and inappropriate speeds.
There is adequate information that higher speeds
bring about higher rates of crashes and more serious casualties.
That needs to be better communicated.
The reduction in quality of life is again well
documented including the reductions in walking, cycling and access
to social and community activitiesand also the harmful
effects on health overall and on the development of younger people.
At local neighbourhood meetings in West Yorkshire the greatest
concerns of local people are the harmful effects of increasing
road traffic driven at inappropriate or illegal speeds.
The availability and reliability of research
on the consequences of, and reasons for, illegal and inappropriate
speed, and in particular the reasons for the very high pedestrian
There is sufficient information on the consequences
of illegal and inappropriate speed. The link to very high pedestrian
casualty rates should not be made automatically as there are other
factors that relate to pedestrian injuries. Very significant reductions
in fatal and serious pedestrian injuries have been made in West
Yorkshire up to the year 2000 and further actions are proposed
to build on these achievements. However, recent fatalities would
suggest that an equal concern is that of young male drivers or
motorcycle riders killing themselves and other motorists.
The extent to which the problems associated
with speed should be tackled by: better enforcement; road re-design
and traffic calming; road re-classification; physical measures
to separate pedestrians and cars (eg barriers); technology (eg
through Intelligent Speed Adaptation and car designs which promote
pedestrian protection); education to improve drivers' and motor
cyclists' behaviour and pedestrian and cyclist awareness; changes
to speed limits and what specific policies should be implemented.
Arguably speeding issues should continue to
be tackled by all means available although you would hope not
to have to use systems such as Intelligent Speed Adaptation as
a controlling mechanism on driver behaviour. The biggest single
issue is the resources required to make the changes that are needed
to influence speeds, most critically in terms of the people required
to carry out necessary actions in an acceptable timescale.
Given the resources that are available, increased
enforcement by way of safety cameras is the quickest way to bring
about a reduction in road injuries and a change in behaviour but
this must be coupled with extensive publicity led by central government.
Road re-design and traffic calming are evolving with the help
and assistance of local people to re-allocate road space to vulnerable
users and to reduce speeds. There are indications that residential
areas are becoming safer and that crashes and injuries are concentrating
on the more major roads where there are difficulties of providing
safety and community facilities whilst maintaining the needs of
business and industry. It is here where safety cameras could be
more usefully used whether or not there has been a history of
Road re-classification or the identification
of a road hierarchy would assist in making clear that roads have
specific purposes and of the type of road design and speed limit
to be expected.
Separation would seem to be a last resort, necessary
only where pedestrian actions could create risk and injury. Dual
carriageway roads in city centres or on the approaches may need
special attention. It is important that pedestrians are also aware
of their responsibilities to behave correctly and safely in a
Education is an issue for all userseffectively
to promote responsible behaviour of drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists
and pedestrians. In a responsible society every member has a duty
towards ensuring their own safety and that of others.
Speed limits should be considered as maximum
speeds given the prevailing road character, although on many de-restricted
roads the national speed limit can be unsafe. Advisory speed limits
could be more widely used to indicate particular difficulties
at locations where the general speed limit or de-restriction does
not give appropriate guidance. Speed limits should relate to the
Implementation of policy in relation to speeds
should not conflict with other transport policies and should take
into account resources available. It was disappointing that "Tomorrow's
Roads" had no assessment of resources required to deliver
the road safety strategy and we should not underestimate or not
take into account the personnel required to effectively address
speeding issues in a reasonable timescale. Neither should policy
be developed without the backing and support from local people.
In general measures to reduce road speeds are supported by many
people in local communities.
The extent to which relevant bodies are taking
the right actions.
Whether local authorities, DTLR- the Highways
Agency, the police and Home Office are providing a co-ordinated
approach to speed management, and what they should do. Whether
the sentences imposed by magistrates and judges on those convicted
of speeding offences have in all cases been appropriate and what
other approaches ought to be considered. Whether motor manufacturers,
the national press, TV programmes about motoring and advertisers
have shown all appropriate attitude to speed, and how they should
Action to address speeding issues is not well
co-ordinated, particularly as this conflicts with other priorities
of the relevant bodies. The Police for example do not necessarily
have casualty reduction targets in policing plans, neither are
they uniformly structured nationally or necessarily sufficiently
staffed to provide a co-ordinated response to traffic policing
issues. Similarly local government has priorities within the modernisation
agenda that could conflict with the resources and structure required
to manage road speeds. Again, it is likely that there is not the
skills base and sufficient staffing nationally to deliver the
actions required even with the use of external consultants. Co-ordination
should stem from central guidance and requirements with the recognition
that appropriate resources and staffing structure are necessary
to deliver the national road safety strategy including the issues
around road traffic speed. Government itself sends mixed messages
about transport issues particularly in respect of the use of motor
Present penalties are a deterrent but are not
consistently applied and are perhaps not applied until road speeds
are very much in excess of speed limits. This culture has been
allowed to develop to the extent that motorists expect to exceed
the speed limit generally without penalty. This is something that
needs to be reversed through enforcement policy nationally to
the point that motorists travel at or within speed limits.
Increasingly media have delivered balanced items
on road speeds on radio, television and in the press, recognising
the very real concerns that local people have about road traffic
and speed. However there is a need for a responsible attitude
to motoring and the advertising that is used.
There is a further question hereare other
stakeholders taking the right action? There are many other bodies
who will benefit from a safer road environment for example Health
Authorities, Insurance Companies and many employers. It is very
important that those interests are represented in developing actions
to manage speeds.
The role of speed management strategies.
Speed management strategies are essential forward
planning and implementation processes linking aims to reduce speeds
and injuries with the needs of local people. The setting down
of objectives, road hierarchy, objectives etc are essential to
direct action and to monitor progress. It is most important that
speed management strategies are developed with local people and
local bodies to make sure that they are suited to local communities.
Work done in West Yorkshire on speed management has been amended
through the involvement of local people to include facilities
to promote community activities and safety.
Speed management strategies need to be inclusive
and represent the interests of all stakeholders.
4 January 2002