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

Memorandum by Street Management, Transport for London (RTS 24)



  1.1  I was appointed to the position of Managing Director of Street Management, Transport for London in October 2000. From 1991 until then I was Traffic Director for London.

  1.2  Transport for London is responsible for developing and managing the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN), 550 km of London's strategic road network including some of near motorway standard. Transport for London is also responsible for developing and implementing the Mayor's Road Safety Plan for London, which was published on 4 December 2001 (1). I am charged with implementing the Mayor's Transport Strategy (2), with specific responsibilities for improving streets for all users—particularly pedestrians, bus users, cyclists and people with disabilities.

  1.3  This evidence is written from a London perspective. It covers the experience gained from implementing the Red Route schemes from 1991 until 2000, the proposals for further developments on the TLRN and implementing the Mayor's Road Safety Plan (1).


2.1  The scale of the problem

  2.11  There is extensive evidence of speeding nationally. Surveys have shown that more than half of all cars on motorways travelled faster than 70mph and 17 per cent were travelling at more than 80mph (3). On urban roads with a 30mph speed limit, 66 per cent of cars exceeded that limit, with 32 per cent travelling faster than 35mph (3). On a self-reporting basis 85 per cent of respondents in a 1,000 home interview survey across the country found themselves exceeding the speed limit on occasion. There was general agreement that everyone did it.

  2.12  In London there is a similar pattern of widespread speeding. A Metropolitan Police survey of London roads in June and July 1999 with a 30mph limit found that 63 per cent of all drivers exceed the speed limit. The survey found that 10 per cent were driving at over 50mph (11).

  2.13  When asked 71 per cent of a stratified sample of 657 drivers in London said that they exceeded the speed limit by at least 10mph once a week or more. Over one third said they exceeded the speed limit by 10mph on five days a week or more (4).

2.2  Public attitudes to speeding

  2.21  A representative group of London drivers were asked about their attitudes to speeding compared with other offences (4). 63 per cent of the group disapproved of others speeding by 10mph or more above the speed limit in urban areas. This is despite the survey results that showed that 71 per cent were speeding by this amount at least once a week. Compared with speeding the group disapproved more of a number of other offences including drinking and driving, parking in a bus lane, not signalling when turning and driving through a traffic light as it changed to red.

  2.22  A sample of London drivers who had been "booked" for speeding were asked why they had exceeded the speed limits. The reasons, listed in the order of frequency that they were mentioned, were:

    —  Moving with traffic

    —  Road was clear

    —  Absent minded, unaware of speed

    —  Speed limit too low

    —  "No reason", "just felt like it"

    —  Unaware of speed limit

  2.23  Speeding is seen as a minor problem and practised by most on a regular basis. The safety implications of speeding are not recognised by the London driver.

  2.24  Advertising campaigns, which promote speeding, can be found in popular car and motorcycle magazines and the mass media. Current campaigns including the following texts:

    —  "you only live once so live life in the fast lane"

    —  "put your foot down to feel the smooth power of the turbo engine"

    —  "fast getaway vehicle"

    —  "performance as the thrill of hard acceleration and the satisfaction of a motorcycle world"

  2.25  It is this kind of positive media associated with speeding which makes the work of organisations such as TfL and the DTLR so difficult.

  2.26  Surveys (4) have shown that London drivers think that it would be unlikely that they would be caught (by the police or by a speed camera) if they exceeded the speed limit. Of those interviewed 8 per cent had been caught for speeding in the last year, with a further 11 per cent caught for speeding a year or more ago. This situation is clearly affected by the frequency of prosecutions for speeding—principally through camera technology—and this is changing rapidly.

  2.27  Despite recent coverage in the national press there is widespread public support for speed cameras that lead to fewer crash casualties and this is discussed further below.

  2.28  The Slower Speeds Initiative (5) stated that the Home Office have indicated that 60 per cent of the 259 crime and disorder audit documents that were sent to them included discussion of road safety in some form. There is also reference to a review conducted by the Association of Chief Police Officers that revealed that when audits asked about road safety, 86 per cent of partnership areas rated it as an issue of concern to rank alongside burglaries and muggings.

  2.29  It appears that road safety is a concern to the public, but speeding is not despite being a major cause of collisions.

2.3  Prosecutions for speeding

  2.31  There is inadequate police activity in tackling the offence of speeding. In England and Wales in 1999 there were just over a million actions taken by the police against speeding offences (6). This means that about one driver in 25 was prosecuted or received a fixed penalty notice or written warning for speeding, despite the majority of drivers committing the offence.

  2.32  In London the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) were less active on motoring offences than the police in the rest of England and Wales. There were just over 42,000 actions taken against speeding motorists by the MPS in 1999 (6), or 4 per cent of the national total. This means that only about one driver in 55 was prosecuted or received a fixed penalty notice or a written warning.

  2.33  The problem, I believe, is that tackling safety related motoring offences is not one of the police priorities as set by the Home Office and the resources for enforcing speeding is unduly limited. Whilst the new arrangements for speed cameras will assist I believe that there is a key role for the police to be present and taking action on the streets and I will return to this issue later on.

2.4  Casualties

  2.41  Nationally speed is a major contributory factor in about one-third of all personal injury road crashes (7). The policy document New Directions in Speed Management (8) sets out the national picture:

    —  Each one mph reduction in average speed is expected to cut the number of crashes by 6 per cent in urban main roads.

    —  The greatest reduction in casualties would come from reducing the speeds of the faster drivers.

    —  One in three surveyed drivers who had been penalised for speeding offences in the previous three years had been involved in a crash as a driver in the same period.

  2.42  Compared with the rest of the country there are fewer high speed roads in London and most driving and riding is done on roads with speed limits of 30mph. This is reflected in the crashes—91 per cent of personal injury crashes occur on roads with speed limits of 30mph or less, and 97 per cent were on roads with speed limits of 40mph or less (9).

  2.43  However this does not mean that speed is not a factor in crashes in London. The problem is one of excessive speeds on urban roads causing collisions and intimidating pedestrians and cyclists. There are slightly more personal injury crashes in London relative to the population compared with the rest of the UK (9, 10). London's personal injury crashes are just as severe as those in the rest of the country—crashes with killed and seriously injured casualties are 14 per cent of the total for both London and the UK—and this is an indicator of the speed of impact of the vehicles and people involved.

  2.44  In London there is more travel by foot and pedestrians make up half of all the fatal casualties in London (9), compared with a quarter for the UK as a whole (10). Pedestrians are particularly susceptible to high speeds. Research (8) has shown that drivers are twice as likely to kill someone when travelling at 35mph as they are at 30mph. The overriding objective of the Mayor's Transport Strategy is to reduce traffic congestion by increasing how much we travel by public transport, walking and cycling. A safe environment for vulnerable road users is essential if this strategy is to succeed.

2.5  The hard core of persistent speeders

  2.51  Research (4) was used to look at what would stop drivers from speeding. A sample of drivers was asked what combination of fines, penalty points and number of speed cameras would stop them speeding. The findings showed that as fines are increased or the number of active cameras is increased the probability of speeding diminishes. But there appears to be a hard core of drivers, perhaps around 10 per cent, who said they would not be discouraged from speeding even if the fine was £120 and there was a live camera in every housing.

  2.52  A minority of drivers operate beyond the traffic regulations without being registered as the vehicle's owner, without tax or insurance and these drivers have a disproportionate number of crashes. A recent report by Direct Line says that Britain has the worst record for uninsured drivers in Europe, apart from Greece. In London, the Havering road safety group instigated a survey in October. With the help of local police cadets they stopped and checked 157 vehicles (in four hours, over two days) and found 48 with no road fund licence, two to be counterfeit, and one with a licence from another vehicle. A further factor is that when the police have tackled the drivers of untaxed vehicles they have found that they are involved in other crimes, so that intervention can have multiple benefits.

  2.53  These factors lead me to believe that relying just on speed and red light cameras will not be enough to tackle speeding and other crimes by these drivers. An increase in police resources out on the street and stopping drivers who are suspected of offences, would be beneficial and this is something I would wish to see implemented.


3.1  Speed limit revisions

  3.11  There has been experience in London of lowering speed limits with enforcement that has led to a significant reduction in casualties. Examples are:

    —  A3 Kingston By-Pass—a section had the speed limit reduced from 70mph to 50mph, with enforcement through speed cameras, leading to a reduction in killed and serious casualties from 41 to 21 (a 54 per cent reduction) comparing 36 months before and after the introduction of the changed speed limits.

    —  A40—a section with speed limits reduced from 70mph to 50mph, again with speed camera enforcement, showed a reduction in killed and serious casualties from 36 to 17 (a 53 per cent reduction) comparing 36 months before and after the introduction of the changed speed limits.

  3.12  The success of this approach has led to further developments to review speed limits across the TLRN. The principles are that speed limits should be matched to the characteristics and function of the highway. High flows of pedestrians, narrow carriageway with variable width, poor forward visibility and vertical or horizontal deviations are likely to be more suited to lower speed limits.

  3.13  We are currently looking at five sections of the TLRN (A10 Bishopsgate, A214 Streatham High Street, A232 West Wickham High Street, A3 Kingston By-pass Service Roads, A2 New Cross) with a view to introducing sections of 20mph limits as a carefully monitored study to assess the potential for more widespread use of such measures.


4.1  Speed cameras

  4.11  There is good evidence that speed cameras reduce speeds, and reduce the number and severity of casualties. The report in August 2001 by DTLR on the traffic safety cameras (11) showed that:

    —  on average speed cameras reduced the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit from 55 per cent to 16 per cent;

    —  excess speed (more than 15mph over the speed limit) at camera sites has been virtually eliminated;

    —  average speeds at cameras sites have been reduced on average by 5.6mph;

    —  on average there were 35 per cent fewer collisions at camera sites and 47 per cent fewer people killed and seriously injured at the camera sites.

  4.12  The experience of speed cameras in London is also very positive. The West London Speed Camera Demonstration project (dealing with most of the then Trunk roads in West London) found that installing 21 speed cameras and 12 red light cameras at crash hot spots led to a 71 per cent reduction in fatal casualties and a 27 per cent reduction in serious casualties comparing a 36 month before and after period on the roads where cameras had been installed in the study area.

  4.13  Despite some recent negative publicity in some national newspapers there is widespread support for speed cameras. A survey in 2001 by Direct Line insurance company showed that 89 per cent of people say that cameras will make them think more about their speed. 50 per cent of drivers would be happy to see more cameras and 70 per cent think that well-placed cameras will save lives. Surveys in camera pilot areas show that 82 per cent of the public think that cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the speed limits not to punish them (11).

  4.14  In 2001 the London Safety Camera Partnership (LSCP) was formed with TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police, the Association of London Government, Greater London Magistrates Courts Authority, The Highways Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Health Service. In November 2001 the LSCP submitted a bid (12) to Government to obtain permission to introduce a system of netting off fixed penalty fine revenue. This is part of the national roll out of the netting off scheme that was piloted in 1999-2000.

  4.15  This scheme, if approved in February 2002, will allow for an increase in the effective operation of speed and red light cameras, with the operating costs of the enforcement being paid for from the fine revenues.

  4.16  The intention is that more effective use is made of the speed cameras. There will be 122 fixed speed camera sites in the first year of operation rising to 194 in 2006-07. These sites will be selected on the basis of having high numbers of killed and seriously injured casualties from collisions in which speed was a factor. The sites will include some of the existing speed camera sites and new ones at locations with high numbers of collisions. The intention is to have a live camera at a quarter of all sites at any time compared with the current arrangements whereby only one in 11 sites has a live camera at any time. There will also be a programme of enforcement using mobile speed detection devices. The Partnership is keen to introduce new speed detection and enforcement technology as it comes on stream.

  4.17  The enforcement activity is expected to increase the number of Fixed Penalty Notices that are issued from 57,000 in 2000-01 to a maximum of 150,000 in 2004-05. The enforcement effort is expected to reduce speeding and the number of offences and tickets issued will start to fall after 2004/5.

  4.18  The strategy is expected to yield benefits of the order of 175 fewer people killed and seriously injured (KSI) in the first year of operation, rising to 275 in 2006-07. This will play a major role in achieving the Mayor's targets for casualty reduction over the period to 2010.

  4.19  The Partnership is expected to bring valuable benefits to London through lowering speeds and reducing casualties but there are further improvements that could be gained through modifications to the way the scheme is run:

    —  Allow the fines revenue to be used for engineering and education measures that could contribute to casualty reductions. The fines revenue is expected to exceed operating costs, especially if expected efficiency improvements in back office operations is achieved.

    —  Ring-fence the savings for safety work. The police are expected to recover £3.7 million from the fines revenue (including red light cameras) to offset their costs and they intend to use these resources on other vital police work. However there is scope to apply any savings for safety work, particularly through mobile speed detection (radar guns) and stopping errant drivers. Recent experience by the police in the London Borough of Havering has shown how this activity can help to curb speeding and also track down drivers using untaxed vehicles and drivers involved in other crime as previously indicated in section 2.52. The level of untaxed vehicles is and this threatens to undermine the safety camera work that relies on penalising the registered driver. Collision data has also shown a correlation between crime and high crash rates, so that stopping speeding drivers and checking for documentation is likely to have a positive effect on road safety.

    —  Reconsider the conspicuity regulations. The likely impact of the recent requirement to make the camera housings more conspicuous by painting them yellow and for additional signing is that the speed cameras will become less effective. Drivers will tailor their speeds more carefully to the camera sites and avoid fines without reducing their speed away from the sites. Other safety camera partnerships are forecasting a drop in revenue of 40 per cent in fine revenues. The regulations to improve conspicuity result from no research and have been introduced to address negative publicity from some national newspapers, that has been shown above to be unfounded.

4.2  Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

  4.21  With on-board speed limiters activated externally there is scope to change dramatically the way we drive. Such a system would ensure compliance with the speed limits for the cars that are fitted with these devices without the need for traffic calming such as speed humps or other physical measures.

  4.22  I look forward to the current research work into ISAs and welcome the initiative by the DTLR to have 20 ISA cars introduced in 2002 (13).

  4.23  At TfL it is recognised that in order to bring about an increase in public transport usage measures are required to make buses more attractive and safer to use. Rapid breaking or accelerating can lead to collisions, especially for the elderly or infirm, whilst on the bus. Through our contractual arrangements with the bus operating companies we are investigating the use of "black box" technology to improve driving standards and reduce the incidence of passengers being injured within the bus or when getting on or off.

4.3  Driver training

  4.3.1  Early work in Exeter and the more recent study by Chester University has shown that the National Driver Improvement Scheme is effective is making drivers that have demonstrated poor driving skills and attitudes become safer on the roads and reduced their risk. I believe that training drivers along the lines of the NDIS out of their speeding habits could also be effective. There would have to be compulsion for the offending drivers to attend the training and this should be linked to the enforcement process.

4.4  At-work road safety

  4.4.1  I welcome the report of the Work-related Road Safety Task Group (14). In London the delivery, despatch, courier and motorcycle delivery services represent a significant flow of vehicles, and it is likely that work-related road crashes are a significant problem in London as for the rest of the country. Further research is required to identify the scale of this problem and I support proposals to include journey purpose as a new question for the police to ask when recording the details of personal injury crashes.

  4.42  I welcome the proposal in the report that the existing health and safety at work laws and responsibilities should be applied to on-the-road activities. TfL is currently working in partnership with the Despatch Association to promote the Courier Code to London-based firms. As part of this work we aim to determine attitudes among professional road users to road safety and to identify the necessary training requirements.

  4.43  Inappropriate journey planning, vehicles, drivers or riders and training as well as pressures of time-tabling can all contribute to speeding, other traffic offences and a higher than necessary level of crashes. A proper risk assessment, including measures to discourage speeding as a means of meeting work performance targets, would help drive down the number of casualties and I strongly support this approach.

4.5  Vehicle design and protection for pedestrians

  4.51  The European Commission have examined the issue of how the design of vehicle fronts could save lives or reduce the injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. Across Europe 9,000 lives are lost each year in crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. It is estimated that up to 2,100 of these could be saved and 18,000 severe injuries prevented if cars meet the standards set by the European Enhanced Vehicle Safety Committee (EEVC). These require car fronts to be softer without hard edges and shaped to reduce damage to adults and children. In London almost half of all fatalities from road crashes are pedestrians who are knocked down by cars and other vehicles. Safer car fronts would be particularly beneficial where speeds are reduced to below 35mph.

  4.52  The EC have now decided to promote a voluntary agreement with the car manufacturers that offers far less protection than the original stringent tests and TfL have made representation to government that the higher standard tests be retained. A copy of my response is attached as Appendix One. I urge the Committee to support the adoption of a European Parliament and Council Directive to secure safer car fronts in accordance with EEVC standards, as the voluntary negotiated agreement does not offer an equivalent level of protection.

4.6  More police on the streets

  4.61  In the evidence above I have referred to the relative lack of enforcement effort by the police for speeding, and the links between traffic offences and other crime. I referred to the increasing number of motorists who operated without licensed or insured cars, which also enables the motorist to evade prosecution through the safety camera schemes. With many more people killed on the roads than through all crimes combined there is a strong case for putting more police resources into speeding and road safety.

  4.62  Additional, active police resources out on the streets is the key to improving enforcement, increasing safety and reducing crime. I believe that this is now the most important issue concerning speeding and road safety in London. I recommend to the Committee that they consider the issue of police priorities for traffic safety.

  4.63  At TfL we are working with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on the development of a "Safe Corridors" initiative. TfL has included £25 million in its 2002-03 bid to the Greater London Authority for this project, which will cover the cost of establishing a Transport Operational Control Unit *OCU). The OCU, which will be jointly managed by TfL and the MPS, will ensure the efficient and safe movement of people and goods along 20 corridors, covering 26 bus routes. It is this type of partnership initiative with dedicated police resources that will ensure a safer London in accordance with our shared objectives.

Derek Turner

Managing Director


  1.    London's Road Safety Plan Transport for London, (TfL) Street Management, November 2001.

  2.    The Mayor's Transport Strategy, July 2001.

  3.    Vehicle Speeds in Great Britain 2000, DTLR, July 2001.

  4.    Bus Lane Camera Research. Unpublished work by Accent for Transport for London, Street Management, May 1998.

  5.    Killing Speed—A good practice guide to speed management. Slower Speeds Initiative 2001.

  6.    Offences relating to motor vehicles. England and Wales 1999. Home Office.

  7.    Tomorrow's Roads—Safer for Everyone, DETR, March 2000.

  8.    New directions in Speed Management—a review of policy, DETR, March 2000.

  9.    Accidents and casualties on London's roads 2000, TfL Street Management, September 2001.

  10.  Transport Statistics Road Accidents 2000, DTLR, 2000.

  11.  Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras, First Year Report, DTLR, August 2001.

  12.  The London Safety Camera Partnership Draft Operational Case, November 2001.

  13.  Speeding: The Continuing Challenge, Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, December 2001.

  14.  Reducing at-work road traffic incidents. Report to Government and the Health and Safety Commission by the Work-related Road Safety Task Force, November 2001.

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