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

Memorandum by the Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers (RTS 33)


  IHIE supports the philosophy of Speed Management as an integrated and focused approach by highway authorities, police authorities, and in certain circumstances vehicle manufacturers, to manage the speed of all road users to a level appropriate for the highway environment. Speed Management is a key Road Safety issue.

  1.  IHIE recognises that the potential benefits of having vehicle speeds better matched to the circumstances include:

    —  casualty reduction (both numbers and severity);

    —  environmental improvements (noise and air pollution, health);

    —  facilitation of more sustainable transport modes;

    —  (perceived?) quality of life improvements for local communities.

  2.  IHIE recognises that in many circumstances vehicles are "going too fast for the circumstances" even though their actual speeds may be well within the relevant speed limit.

  3.  IHIE believes that each Highway Authority should be required to develop, in partnership with their local Police authority and the Highways Agency, a joint strategy for speed management within their area. The measurement of success of such strategies is difficult but each strategy should, nevertheless, include measurable outcomes against which the progress of the strategy is assessed. These might include changes in number and severity of crashes, changes in vehicle speeds at control sites, or changes in attitude or awareness (to be determined by random sample interviews/questionnaires).

  4.  IHIE believes that speed limits must be seen to be reasonable and appropriate to encourage willing compliance. A consistency of approach is needed to the imposition of speed limits, the intervention levels for their enforcement, and the penalties imposed on offenders.

  5.  IHIE will press for greater freedom to be given to the development and use of new technology to address the problems of speeding, for example:

    —  the use of vehicle recognition systems linked to variable message signs to target individual speeding vehicles;

    —  the use of traffic signals just within speed limit zones which are triggered by speeding vehicles entering the zone, forcing them to stop and reconsider their speed when starting again;

    —  the use of variable speed limits on Motorways to reflect whether and traffic conditions, as employed elsewhere in Europe.

  6.  IHIE advocates the fitting of "speed-limiter" devices to all new cars with a time limit being set for all existing vehicles to have speed limiters retrospectively fitted.

  7.  IHIE recognises that effective speed management cannot be accomplished by engineering measures alone and acknowledges the very important role that driver education has in the management of speed. A culture change in national opinion, similar to that which was required to address drink-driving will be required to achieve real changes in driver behaviour.

  8.  IHIE will, therefore, press the government to allocate the same level of resources and support to tackling speeding as has been devoted to the highly successful initiatives on drink-driving.

  9.  IHIE recognises the impact of "Just in Time" business practice and the hidden pressures of work and driving hours deadlines in encouraging high speeds to meet targets. Employers are a key influence on such behaviour and IHIE will work to influence employers in the engineering sector to give road safety and driver behaviour a higher profile in determining their working practices.

  10.  IHIE will press for the adoption of alternative penalties for speeding offences, to include retraining/driver education programmes for first offenders and stiffer penalties including long-term withdrawal of the driving licence for habitual offenders.

January 2002

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