Is Traffic Calming a Worse Health Risk Than Passive Smoking ? 2006
To use fuel efficiently, the driver of a heavy vehicle needs to store the energy contained in the vehicle. Traffic calming is perhaps the greatest waste of fuel ever devised. One new roundabout, causing an average speed reduction of 30 Kph, traversed five times loaded at 32.5 tonnes, and four times at 11.5 tonnes, used on average 2 gallons extra fuel per day. This can be proved by mathematical calculation, but I have never seen the equations in any text book. I have undertaken a rough calculation of the extra fuel used by causing a heavy vehicle to stop or slow.
The roundabout calculation shows that fuel consumption is doubled over a certain road section from the start of braking, to the end of acceleration. This will be true for all vehicles forced to stop or slow. The same principle applies to all vehicles if the stored energy has to be wasted through the brakes.
Miles per Gallon is not a true measure of fuel consumption. The true measure is grams per kilowatt hour, as used by transport engine manufacturers. The total amount of time under power is the factor which determines Mpg. Almost all internal combustion engines are most efficient at or near full load. This is because the heat lost through cooling and the exhaust is almost constant under any load condition.
” The Transport Research Laboratory conducted emission testing on roads with 75 metre hump spacing and found with vehicles travelling at a constant speed, CO emissions increased by 70-80%, Hydro-carbons by 70-100% and CO2 by 50-60%. It is obvious that the percentages would have increased by many times over had the more realistic scenario of braking and accelerating for humps been tested as well, but the realistic pollution figures would have designated every humps scheme as a serious danger to residents’ health. ” RITF
Air pollution could be reduced by reversing the present theory of traffic management by traffic calming. In many cases this would cost very little as it mainly involves altering the phasing of traffic lights. The replacement of all small diameter roundabouts on major roads would also produce a useful reduction in emissions from all vehicles. Part time traffic signals and “free give way” left turns could replace many current roundabouts and other permanently controlled junctions, without a significant reduction in safety. Speed warning signs as opposed to speed camera’s could also play a beneficial roll, likewise the latest flashing cats eyes which could be used to warn drivers when part time signals are operating.
It is now ten years since I wrote the basis for the above and since then very little policy has changed at least nationally here in the UK. However, it would appear that future policy is now to be focused on reducing transport’s negative effect on the environment, It is quite ironic that the Green’s actually campaigned for the introduction of traffic calming, even after I sent Friends of the Earth and others letters pointing out the extra pollution it caused. There is also strong evidence to suggest that traffic calming in an area leads to an increase in asthma cases, the science suggests that the same is probably true for 20 Mph zones.
I can only hope that concern for the environment will put an end to traffic calming once and for all. The road safety high priests will all squeal like stuck pigs but it has to be pointed out that most of them have never campaigned for annual eye-sight tests for drivers. It is estimated that 20% of drivers in the UK fail to meet the eye-sight requirements, and they are probably responsible for 50% of the serious accidents. A new roundabout was installed at a cross-roads on one of my local roads after two serious accidents in two weeks. I know for a fact that the driver involved in both as the cause was practically blind at the time of the accidents, I knew his grand-daughter well.
To reduce transport’s effect on Global Warming many speed limits need to be increased not cut further. When 90 Kph EU speed limiters were introduced on HGV’s during the 1990s fuel consumption on local 38 tonne vehicles doing night runs from Lancashire to Scotland increased from 9 Mpg to 7 Mpg.
Higher speeds will be no problem if all drivers have decent eye-sight which is regularly tested. The only problem is will the UK government manage to wean itself off fuel tax revenues. I believe that casualties have been cut by 15% in the Borough of Barnet since they ripped out existing traffic calming, casualties for cyclists dropped by twice the London average.
You have only got to watch Road Wars on Sky Three to see that traffic calming is worse than useless when it comes to stopping or even slowing determined reckless drivers. It would appear that lack of funds for essential road maintenance caused by using the roads budget for traffic calming has killed at least one moped rider, despite Tameside council’s attempt to avoid responsibility. Increased transport pollution of the type generated by traffic calming has also recently been shown to stunt lung development in children.
The recent chaos on the roads during relatively light snow may be due in part to traffic calming being installed on some hills.
It has come to my attention that a Blackburn bus company is withdrawing its services from several traffic calmed streets. The alleged problem is damage to the suspension of its brand new low floor buses, but that is not to say that conventional busses don’t suffer damage either. Perhaps the reason so many local authorities have had to sell their corporation transport was due to increased maintenance costs for vehicles regularly using traffic calmed streets, in particular those with humps. The stresses on bodywork and other components has to be seen to be believed, likewise the extra workload and fatigue for the driver.
Any local authority still considering introducing traffic calming or building new roundabouts on trunk roads cannot be serious about reducing their carbon footprint.
It is interesting to note that many proposed traffic calming works are often funded by a property developer with a new site nearby. Perhaps their primary interest is to gain brownie points with the stock market parasites and so favor their share price. After all forcing everybody to use twice as much fuel keeps the oil price artificially high and think of all the revenue for extra repairs to vehicles. Any extra asthma cases and any people severely injured but not killed outright will put stress on NHS funding and allow the ” lunatic right ” to call for NHS privatisation, and then the stock market parasites can get their dirty fingers into the till of what could be the largest organization in the country.
Leg-Irons Kill People
I lost a friend of mine in an overtaking accident last week on the A65 near Austwick between Settle and Ingleton. It was technically his fault, but I can’t help speculating that if the vehicle he attempted to overtake had been travelling 10 Mph faster he would have been content to remain behind at least until he could reach a safer place to overtake. Leg-Irons, i.e. those people who will insist on driving up to 20 Mph less than the national speed limit ( 60 Mph on single carriageway A roads ) are a real menace on Britain’s roads. The section of road leading up to where my friend killed himself ( and his mate ) is quite undulating and curvy, but it is possible to safely maintain close to 60 Mph throughout in a car and 50 Mph in an articulated lorry.
Of course the HGV speed limit is currently 40 Mph but 90% of HGV drivers do the safe thing and ignore this stupid law which has no basis in science. I did all the vehicle motion science at tech and the mass cancels itself out in all the crucial equations, the limit is there purely to technically make the railways more competitive. Some may travel slowly in the belief that they are saving fuel, but this doesn’t hold water in science or practical experience either. I check my fuel consumption figures of my 1000cc car each time I fill up and I can expect to have to pay significantly more if I have been significantly delayed by Leg-Irons on open roads during that period.
Perhaps the most potentially dangerous Leg-Irons are those who totally fail to attempt to pass slow moving vehicles like tractors at the earliest opportunity. All too soon a ” funeral procession ” of several vehicles can build up and some completely incompetent idiot in a high powered car comes along and is likely to try to pass the lot. Queues formed on open roads generally tend to lead to severe congestion at junctions. It is perhaps hardly surprising that the government fails to do anything about this because they are now considering charging for road use on the strength of it. It is my considered opinion that many drivers buy high power cars or 4 by 4’s to make up for their self confessed lack of aptitude and driving ability.
Of course the road safety high priests will preach that everyone is expected to drive like morons watching their speed all the time and not attempt to pass anywhere. Unfortunately human nature is not like that and its tragic that many of the brightest, imaginative ” get up and go ” younger drivers kill themselves and others simply trying to make their way in life to the best of their ability.
To improve road safety and cut the number of head-on accidents during overtaking the HGV speed limit needs to go up to 50 Mph. Similarly a new offence of Not Making Satisfactory Progress needs to be brought in for car drivers who consistently fail to maintain the posted speed limit. Encouraging traffic officers to stop or film people going too slow and subjecting them to an eye test could be a sufficient deterrent, but perhaps a fixed penalty fine of £30 could work better. I suspect that many basically incompetent drivers would give up driving altogether if they were faced with fines for going too slow. It is also probable that many of them would fail the eyesight test anyway. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A17869756
In the early 1960s when the goods vehicle speed limit was only 20 Mph it was not unknown for the police to stop vehicles travelling at only 20 and inquire if there was something seriously wrong with it. It is probably the case that any theoretical reductions in deaths ascribed to traffic calming and other quasi-religious road safety measures of the past 15 years are down to better paramedics and the air ambulance service. It is interesting to note that road deaths are now unfortunately on the increase again now that the effects of the better emergency services have peaked.
Finally I can’t overstress the negative impact that computer driving simulations have on inexperienced drivers which are mostly the young. However, my friend who died was 35 and had not yet passed his test, its a long fairly tragic life story and too detailed to go into here. Drivers need to start organized practical learning as early as possible, but extortionate insurance premiums now preclude this in many cases.
My friend was the worlds best driver on PS2 which he played in most of his spare time, but it has to be drummed into young drivers that you don’t get a second chance in real life. I believe that there is now firm research which proves that playing computer driving games lead young drivers to take more risks. Perhaps the same principle applies to many of those who are engaged in shootings and violent crime in general, especially those who misuse drugs.
Campaign Against Lower Rural Speed Limits
IF the government allow local authorities to cut speed limits to 40Mph, transport in rural areas will be put back to 1930s standards. Pre 1974 local councils spent an absolute fortune improving and widening many miles of road between rural communities to make them safe for the then national limit of 70 Mph. If cuts in speed limits go through, the investment of our far sighted forefathers will be completely wasted. Cutting speed limits will also increase fuel consumption for rural drivers.
It would appear that today’s politicians have had their brains washed by well organized anti speed campaigners and greens, who’s main aim appears to be to bring back the Red Flag Act and turn the UK into a third world country when it comes to transport. If road safety campaigners were serious about actually reducing accidents they would all propose annual eyesight tests. However, as they get most of their funding from the transport industry it would appear that they would prefer more accidents at lower speeds.
I expect that most rural accidents are caused by tourists going relatively slow watching the scenery not the road ahead. Reducing rural speed limits to 40 Mph will not cut accidents as most rural accidents occur in locations where the safe speed may be as low as 30 or even less than 20 Mph. Cutting the current allowed maximum of 60 Mph will actually encourage some drivers to go faster where road conditions do not allow higher speed.
Many rural road accidents are caused by drivers foolishly swerving to avoid small animals like rabbits and pheasants. Killing something like a sheep is surely preferable to risking you life, running over things like rabbits and pheasants wont even damage your vehicle. Similarly parking in potentially dangerous locations like in blind bends and over the brow of a hill can be easily avoided. Pedestrians should not always follow the highway code to the letter, crossing over to the side of the bend where you can easily be seen from a reasonable distance is advisable
Keeping rural speed limits at the current 60Mph is more important now the prospect of spy in the sky satellite tracking and road pricing looms on the horizon. It would appear that there are plans to put lower limits on every road except the more expensive trunk roads. This will restrict choice to avoid the routes with the highest rates and still get to your destination in a reasonable time.
It could be said that rural speed limits are almost impractical or impossible to police, but with spy in the sky tracking, they can get you anywhere between two fixed points. Any average driver is faced with the prospect of becoming a criminal he is skilful enough to complete his rural journey at an average over 40Mph. I seem to remember of something in New Labour’s “clause 4 ” about allowing people to attain their full potential, not much sign of it in policy when it comes to driving.
It is interesting to note that both the current opposers are potential eco-fascists. It is pretty obvious that those leading the call for lower rural speed limits are almost exclusively townies who are probably not good drivers themselves. This country is being wrecked by narrow minded people who because they can’t do something safely themselves think that nobody else is capable of doing it either. Like the Foxhunting Ban, policy is all about trying to destroy the rural economy so that ten bob fat cat city dwellers can ” Escape to the Country ” and take the homes currently occupied by indigenous rural people. Like the road fuel tax escalator, its all part of a general trend for ethnic cleansing by stealth.
A Google search in my name flushed out
I originally wrote the article to PDE publications in Toronto Canada in 1996. Action Network closed in May 2008, perhaps it was divulging to many diverse opinions to a mass audience.