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Road Humps

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

Advice on the design and implementation of road humps is given in the Department’s traffic advisory leaflets, and a bibliography of these is available in the Library of the House. The Department also plans to publish a local transport note later this year. This will draw together all previous advice on traffic calming policy, including advice on the use of road humps.

The evidence on the use of concrete cushion road humps over the past 10 years is not very good. People can drive motorbikes between them, they fail to take into account on-street parking, and 4x4s can straddle them at great speed. Would the Minister care to come to Market Warsop in my constituency to road test the concrete road humps there?

I am happy that I get to road test many things in my job, but so far a road hump has not been one of them. I am happy to come to my hon. Friend’s constituency at some point, but I would point out to him that certain types of road calming measures are suitable in certain locations. It is for local authorities to decide which type of traffic calming is most appropriate, which type of road cushion is used, and whether it should have gaps in the middle of it for motorcycles. Local people should make decisions about improving those road humps, and I hope that the advisory note that we produce at the end of this year, to which my hon. Friend has contributed, will help them to make those decisions.

While road humps obviously have an important safety role, is the Minister aware of the study by the London Ambulance Service three years ago, which suggested that if one minute could be saved on ambulance times by removing unnecessary road humps, 500 lives a year would be saved in cases of stroke, heart attack and so on? Another issue is the reluctance of paramedics to fit drips to critically ill patients who must travel over road humps.

I am, of course, aware of that study. That is why, when local councils decide on traffic calming measures in a particular area, it is important that they consult the emergency services and take into account the advice of the ambulance service, fire brigade and police about what is appropriate. I remind the hon. Gentleman, however, that road safety is the reason why local authorities install traffic calming measures, and that road humps might avoid ambulances having to do quite so much work in future.

Further to the motorcycling Minister’s last response, and in the interest of getting traffic moving, is he aware that the A406 was brought to a complete halt by an accident early this morning? Strong men wept behind the wheels of their cars and toddlers sobbed in the back seats as they saw the school day recede from them. What can the Government do to try to get traffic moving faster after accidents?

I was not aware of that particular problem this morning. One of the things that we are doing, however, is making available nearly 1,500 highways officers around the country to clear up after accidents, remove debris from the road and keep traffic moving as fast as possible. Those highways officers work with the police, relieving them to perform other more important duties, and concentrate particularly on keeping the traffic moving. That is one practical way in which the Government are keeping the traffic moving on the trunk road network.

In addition to the Minister’s advice to local authorities on road humps, will he advise them to consider the cost and effectiveness of installing equipment that merely flashes the speed rather than taking a picture, as I think that they will find that that is both cheaper and more effective than road humps and speed cameras?

I entirely agree that those types of speed advisory sign have their place and can be very effective in the right location. I repeat, however, that it is for the local council and local people who know the area best to decide what is the right sort of traffic calming. The sort of signs to which she is referring can be very effective, and I would always ask local councils to consider them.