Road Safety News

Could speed bumps become a thing of the past?

Tuesday 11th April 2017

Councils across the UK could be encouraged to phase out speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures as part of a new Government plan to cut air pollution.

According to a report in the Telegraph on Sunday (9 April), the Government has been forced to reconsider its proposals for improving air quality after the High Court ruled that its existing strategy did not meet legal requirements.

Ministers have come up with a raft of new ideas including advice to local councils on how to keep traffic flowing steadily, rather than stop-start driving which increases fuel consumption and harmful emissions.

One area to be targeted is speed bumps, with councils set to be encouraged to replace them with other options including road cushions.

According to the Telegraph, speed bumps force drivers to slow right down to avoid damaging their vehicle, whereas cushions, which are normally placed in groups of two or three across the road and have a shallower slope, require less deceleration.

The news report points to research by Imperial College London which suggests that driving over speed bumps in a diesel car produces 98% more nitrogen dioxide than driving over road cushions.

Other options likely to be put forward include better sequencing of traffic lights to ensure that drivers arrive at green lights rather than red ones if they drive within the speed limit.

The DfT and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will present the new plan to the High Court on 24 April.




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For the safety of all roadside communities and road users existing traffic calming features should remain in situ, including speed bumps, until a cost effective traffic calming measure that calms traffic on all UK roads is introduced.

Compulsory in-car technology that audibly warns drivers if they are speeding or tailgating before directly reporting them if they don't respond positively, would potentially decrease speeding and tailgating on all UK roads.

Such technology would improve the safety of all road users, including cyclists and horse riders, and also pedestrians, and wildlife without the cost of changing road infrastructure. It would also help reduce air pollution caused by speeding, that recent research shows a link with dementia.

Such technology could work alongside the new eCall device to be fitted in new cars in 2018 that will be reporting vehicle collisions directly to emergency services for a quicker rescue response.
Paula Collingwood

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)


Speed bumps may work in slowing down traffic to what a community may agree is the right maximum speed, but only where they exist, and society cannot afford the huge investment if you are going to rely on these exclusively. Many who advocate speed bumps do so knowing that their cost is prohibitive and hence cannot be universally implemented.

Technology exists to provide far wider automatic enforcement of all limits cheaply and effectively. Relying on discomfort (and often least discomfort to the most dangerous vehicles) as a method of speed management is a poor substitute for a correctly set and enforced limit.

And can I ask if you are the David Davies of PACTS, and if so whether you are speaking on behalf of PACTS. Thank you.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

Abolishing speed humps would be a seriously retrograde step for safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. Speed humps work - unlike exhortation, occasional police enforcement or 20mph limits without any physical measures. Well designed humps slow traffic without creating stop-starts. Air pollution needs tackling but we must not lose sight of road casualty policy. And I suspect the "abolish speed humps" line may be as much about courting the motorist lobby as about reducing air pollution.
David Davies, London

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

Speed bumps are damaging, distracting and costly.

Speed is constantly the villain, and we have created a more hazardous driving environment with measures that detrimentally affect health and safety on the roads in the search for the Holy Grail of killing speed. What of the manufacturers creating larger, more powerful and faster vehicles, though I doubt any brake horse power limit will be met with rejoicing, as a species we love our power. It’s the realisation that personal transport is a privilege, and not a status that needs to be drummed into heads.

Air pollution is made out what it is claimed to be by those with vested interests in restricting and making money from vehicle users whether through fuel taxation or emissions – stung at both ends. Major cities in the UK have never had such clean air as we have today. Have people deliberately wiped out memories of the fifties and early sixties?

Electric vehicles. All the rage amongst the chatterati, but the range is poor, and the silence itself a killer. What was the old adage taught in every school – Stop, Look, and Listen? Some are forced to rely on hearing alone. But there’s another problem with electricity – we have a severe lack of future power for industrial and domestic applications, loading the grid with tens of thousands of charging vehicles is going to meet with serious problems. And what price to the environment the manufacture and cost of replacing and recycling batteries periodically?

Good riddance to speed humps, chicanes and segregated traffic lanes. Reduce pollution and congestion, and quite likely accidents too, as less to avoid diverting more attention to moving hazards on the roads.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

Unfortunately drivers quite rightly presume that they can drive up to the speed limit and its no offence to do so. Indeed they can drive somewhat faster as the the police and cameras make allowances and anyone can in fact exceed the shown legal speed limit by 10 0% plus 2 mph and do so in no fear of being punished and prosecuted for it. That's a state of affairs that should never have been allowed to a happen. One should have to drive by the speedometer and the circumstances of the road at that time.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

In answer to Robert, they're designed to achieve speeds not necessarily corresponding to or near the posted speed limit. Drivers should not assume that they have an entitlement to drive at the posted speed limit.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)


I used the word "often". This implies that it is not always illegal.
Rod King

Agree (2) | Disagree (10)

Many speed bumps are in 30 limit roads, so should they not be 'comfortable' taking them at 30?
Robert Bolt St Albans

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)

Since when has the acceleration between speed bumps been illegal? I can understand it if such a measure exceeds the legal speed limit for the road but not if its under.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

The government has taken a NICE guideline that states that speed tables and bumps should be designed to discourage hard braking. In effect the speed profile of the table should enable 'comfortable' taking at 20mph.
Adam Reynolds, Bath

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

I certainly hope so. Speed bumps show the failure of enforcement, engagement and auto design. Communicating with drivers through the buttocks and spines will always be inferior to hearts and minds backed up by appropriate technology such as enforcement and ISA.

Speed bumps that are localised also create a "starting gate" effect where as soon as you are past the speed bumps the tendency is to speed up. They communicate that "only in these places" is it really necessary to drive within the limit.

And lets remember that it is not the speed bump which causes emissions to rise but the acceleration and braking between them. Often this is illegal.

So, by all means lets hear that the government is serious about emissions. But it needs to back up the developing norm of 20mph for residential and urban roads with adequate policing and enforcement.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (20)

More electric vehicles would seem to be the solution then - no exhaust, smoother progress and less brake wear and almost nil noise.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (10)

Who are communities if not people? Ask someone with breathing difficulties if they think air pollution is a real and immediate problem in some places and affects their quality of life. Some vehicle manufacturers engine designs produce vastly more emissions than others in real world use - both petrol and diesel. And exhaust emissions are only part of the story. Who hasn't "tasted" the smell of hot brake shoes/pads on some heavily trafficked downhill sections of road because of all the friction material particles and other stuff floating about. Air quality issues may not be central to road safety but the solutions will impact on traffic, transport and road safety design whether we like it or not.
Pat, Wales

Agree (16) | Disagree (2)

I think it's speeds and not air pollution that bothers communities. Unlike supposed air-pollution, speeders can be seen to be an immediate threat to life and limb 'as it happens' and can be seen to be slowed by the humps, whereas air quality can't be sensed or perceived in the same way, unless it's noise pollution caused by vehicles travelling too fast of course - in which case all the more reason to slow them down.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (9)