Health experts are calling on local authorities to introduce more 20mph speed limits in congested residential areas in an attempt to reduce air pollution.
Published today (1 Dec), new draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also calls for speed bumps to be redesigned, to stop cars speeding up and then slowing down between them.
The RAC has welcomed the guidelines, saying there is plenty in the draft that is worthy of ‘serious consideration’.
NICE says that being exposed to short-term and long-term air pollution caused by human activities can have a significant health impact, with harmful emissions and the environmental risks associated with pollution linked to around 25,000 deaths a year in England. It also says that air pollution and its health impact costs the UK up to £18.6bn annually.
NICE estimates that road traffic causes more than 64% of air pollution in urban areas, and as a result it is urging local authorities to do more to tackle the problem.
Other recommendations laid out by NICE include:
- Restrictions on engine idling during short stops such as outside schools and hospitals
- More charging points for electric cars in residential areas
- Placing the most commonly-used rooms in new houses away from polluting roads
NICE is also calling on businesses and transport services to educate their transport staff in more efficient ‘smooth’ driving skills, such as avoiding hard accelerations or decelerations and turning off the engine when at a standstill.
Professor Paul Lincoln, chief executive of UK health forum and NICE guideline committee chair, said: “Traffic-related air pollution is a major risk to public health and contributes to health inequalities.
“The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence-based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.”
Nick Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “While only in draft form at this stage, there is a lot in NICE’s guidelines that is worthy of serious consideration when it comes to tackling air quality.
“No idling zones, and the suggestion that local authorities should think again about speed humps which cause motorists to brake and then accelerate again, are eminently sensible suggestions and both have the potential to improve the quality of air locally.”
NICE’s draft recommendations on tackling air pollution are out for public consultation until 25 January 2017.