Graham produces some startling evidence about the dangers of speed bumps as a means of cutting down traffic speed in built up areas.
I have written before about abolishing speed humps, used as a method of cutting down speed in built up areas. Some are far worse than others but the worst that I have encountered so far were in Thames Ditton, just a short distance from Hampton Court. The road into the village is just over a mile long and peppered with huge humps about every fifty yards. Add to that, regular chicanes and a 20mph limit, and you can see that it is somewhere definitely to avoid. It is an ordinary suburban road with no special premises like schools or retirement homes. What the council taxpayers who funded all this think, I dare not imagine, as the cost must have been prodigious.
The next day, I was reading the Daily Telegraph Motoring Supplement when I came across this exchange in the Honest John Letters page. He is somebody whose views usually coincide with mine as you can see from the following extract that is published by kind permission of The Daily Telegraph:
"You need to get over your paranoid prejudice against humps and speed cameras. It colours your judgement. Speed kills and the most effective counter-measures are humps and speed cameras (preferably hidden).
W. S. Southend-on-Sea
Tell that to the families of those who die because ambulances are delayed by speed humps. Or to yet another reader who wrote recently to tell me that the inside edges of his Vauxhall Omega's tyres had been worn down to the wire in places, damage caused by chamfered speed cushions. Had the damage not been discovered, he would have suffered a blowout with possible fatal consequences for him and other road users. One day an insurer faced with a seven-figure payout for such an incident will investigate the cause properly, attribute it to speed humps, sue the relevant council and rid us of them for ever. As for speed, it certainly affects the severity of an impact. But crashes (at any speed) are caused by poor concentration, short-sighted observation and inadequate following distances as drivers are lulled into the belief that sticking to the speed limit makes them safe. Speed sensor- operated traffic lights are by far the best way to slow traffic in tons and villages. The Spanish adopted them in the early 1980's. The system is very efficient, but doesn't raise any revenue."
The only thing that Honest John omits is the effect on the local environment. I followed an old diesel down this road and every time it set off from a hump. A puff of blue smoke belched into the atmosphere. Multiply that by many hundreds of cars daily and you can see that Thames Ditton is not exactly a healthy district to live in. I agree with H.J. that the speed sensor-operated lights have a good effect on motorists and I just hope that revenue is not going to be put above safety considerations in future in the important matter of speed control.