Unintended Consequences
Safe Speed Press information

 release date: 16th April 2004 number: PR116

Unintended Consequences

News: For immediate release

Apparently The London Assembly is proposing to remove speed humps and replace them with 20mph speed limits enforced by camera.

This follows reports by the London Ambulance Service that speed humps are killing 500 Londoners each year by delaying ambulances.

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign comments: "The policy of speed humps in London humps failed due to the unintended consequences, and killed 500 each year. Now they are proposing cameras and 20mph speed limits again without properly considering the unintended consequences of their actions. Speed cameras are bad for road safety because they distract drivers from the road ahead. It would be all very well if this effect had been measured and found to be smaller than the potential benefit of lower speeds - but they don't bother with such niceties."

According to 2002 DfT figures, injury accidents in 20mph zones are on average more severe than injury accidents in 30mph zones.

20mph zones:

  • all casualties: 564
  • killed or seriously injured: 77
  • percentage killed or seriously injured: 13.7%

30mph zones:

  • all casualties: 141,959
  • killed or seriously injured: 18,562
  • percentage killed or seriously injured: 13.1%

This is exactly the opposite of the "obvious" result - although the difference in average severity is not large, it does warn us that "other effects" are present above and beyond the simple physics. Indeed the simple physics would lead us to expect far lower average accident severities in 20mph zones.

Safe Speed believes that the explanation for this apparent anomaly is likely to be that drivers are less attentive in 20mph zones, and that driver attention is a far more important part of the road safety system than speed.

Paul continues: "Until there is an adequate explanation for these figures we must not install any more 20mph zones. Driver response is our most precious road safety asset and we must not squander it by distracting drivers or by forcing them to drive below the speeds necessary for optimal safety."


Notes for Editors:

2002 accident data from DfT Publication "RCGB 2003", Table 13:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/ ... /dft_index.hcst?n=8652&l=5

Correction: In the original email version of this release, we blamed Ken Livingstone's Transport for London for these plans. This was incorrect. We apologise for the error and any confusion or inconvenience we may have caused.

About Safe Speed:

Since setting up Safe Speed in 2001, Paul Smith, 48, an advanced motorist and road safety enthusiast, and a professional engineer of 25 years UK experience, has carried out in excess  of 4,500 hours of research into the overall effects of speed camera policy on UK road safety. We believe that this is more work in more detail than anything carried out by any other organisation. Paul's surprising conclusion is that overall speed cameras make our roads more dangerous. Paul has identified and reported a number of major flaws and false assumptions in the claims made for speed cameras, and the whole "speed kills"  system of road safety. 

The inescapable conclusion is that we should urgently return to the excellent road safety policies that gave us in the UK the safest roads in the World in the first place. 

Safe Speed does not campaign against speed limits or appropriate enforcement of motoring laws, but argues vigorously that automated speed enforcement is neither safe nor appropriate. 

Contact Safe Speed:

web: http://www.safespeed.org.uk 
email : psmith@safespeed.org.uk
telephone: 01862 832000 anytime. 
mobile: 07799 045553 
note: the mobile does not work well at our office. Always try land line first. 
Location: North Scotland 

We are available for press and media interviews.

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Created 17/04/2004. Last update 17/04/2004