The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is ‘deeply concerned’ about a Bill which would give powers to parish and town councils to hold localised referenda to set speed limits.
The Speed Limits on Roads (Devolved Powers) Bill, sponsored by Scott Mann MP (North Cornwall), will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 5 February.
This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 18 November 2015 by the Conservative MP under the Ten Minute Rule and looks to amend Part VI of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996.
It aims to make provision about the powers and duties of parish and town councils in relation to applying for speed limit orders, and provide for the conduct of local referendums to determine whether such applications should be made.
The ABD has published seven reasons* outlining its opposition to the Bill.
Ian Taylor, ABD director, said: “This is localism carried too far. Traffic speeds would be dictated by the whim of residents and other users of the roads – with those visiting, servicing or passing through not getting a say.
“For speed limits to work and get acceptance (and compliance) from the majority of drivers, they need to (be) set correctly to achieve a level of consistency on the same types of roads everywhere. That is a job for experts, not the votes of amateurs, who would doubtless be egged on by those lobby groups who campaign for speeds to come down nearly to walking pace.
“This would become hell for drivers, at the hands of those who think they "own their streets" and have no concept of the point of a public highway network.”
It it passes through the second reading, the Bill would then need to gain approval at committee stage, report stage and pass a third reading, before going through the same process in the House of Lords.
*Seven reasons why the ABD opposes the Bill:
Parish councils already have ability to lobby highways authorities on speed limits as do individuals.
Highways authorities have legal responsibility to maintain a safe and efficient network and set speed limits that promote safety without unnecessarily increasing journey times.
Speed limits affect drivers all drivers visiting or passing through, not just residents. There needs to be reasonable consistency between limits on similar types of road in different areas to avoid confusion.
Changing speed limits does not guarantee a change in actual speeds; a change (up or down) rarely leads to a change in measured speeds of more than 25% of the change, often less.
Reduced speed does not guarantee reduction in accidents; slower is not necessarily safer. Limits set too low create driver conflict and increase speed variance, which is more highly correlated with accident risk than average speed.
Residents frequently exaggerate (sometimes grossly) the speeds of vehicles on "their" roads. Speed limit changes should never be considered on the basis of residents’ claims alone; there must be objective speed surveys.
Comparing accident numbers on 20 mph and 30 mph roads (as Steve Mann MP, the Bill’s promoter has done) without taking into account the vastly greater number of 30 mph roads is nonsense – the only valid comparison is the rates per vehicle mile, which are not currently available by speed limit.