The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has called on the Government not to overlook safety in its rush to improve air quality.
David Davies, PACTS Executive Director, said “PACTS strongly supports measures to improve air quality in our towns and cities. But the Government must not throw out the safety baby with the air pollution bathwater. We need vehicles that are clean, driven at speeds that are safe. An increasing number of mayors, councils and organisations are endorsing Vision Zero with strategies to reduce death and serious injury from traffic to near zero. Air quality plans must work with them, not against them.”
PACTS has urged councils to think very carefully before removing speed humps in the name of public health. Speed humps are proven to be one of the most effective and inexpensive forms of speed control measure and have prevented large numbers of deaths and injuries, particularly for children, the elderly, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Other designs – chicanes, speed “cushions”, road narrowing, psychological traffic calming, etc can be effective but need careful design and can bring their own problems. Speed limits without physical enforcement measures have very little impact on actual speeds. Few, if any, speed humps could realistically be replaced by speed cameras or policing.”
Davies added, “Some sources are suggesting that removing speed humps is the answer to improving air quality. There may be a small number of specific locations where this is justified. In fact, well designed and well-maintained humps and other devices can smooth traffic flows and keep speeds down, which should improve air quality. There is a case for spending more on these measures, not ripping them out.”
“There have been some misleading comparisons of deaths resulting directly from road traffic collisions and the number of premature deaths to which air pollution contributes. In addition to the UK’s 1,800 annual road deaths, there are the thousands of life years lost by those who suffer injury and the victims’ families who experience trauma. The Department for Transport estimates that there are between 630,000 and 800,000 road casualties in Great Britain each year.”
The Government statement accompanying its Air Quality Plan, published 26th July 2017, says:
Local authorities will be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements which will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include changing road layouts, removing traffic lights and speed humps, or upgrading bus fleets.
In response to PACTS’ comments, a Government spokesperson said, “…none of these [air quality consultation] documents revoke or amend the measures set out in the 2013 speed limit circular.”