Back to blog

Speed Bumps could disappear from British roads, is that a good idea?

Posted on August 7, 2017

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has advised local councils to scrap speed bumps as part of governmental plans to reduce pollution. Gove had announced that town halls should prioritise ‘improving road layouts and junctions to optimise traffic flow’, most importantly stating that they should consider the removal of road humps.

Other governmental plans to reduce air pollution have included the addition of a potential new tax on owners of diesel vehicles, but ministers say that they want councils to try other methods of new road layouts before any charges are made.

These plans have come after the soaring levels of nitrogen dioxide that are emitted on the roads, and the links to deaths from the effects of air pollution. Speed bumps are being directly targeted due to the reports that they are said to double emissions because they cause vehicles to repeatedly slow down and speed up, amounting to a 98% increase in nitrogen dioxide emitted by cars driving over them when compared to smaller, shallower ‘road cushions’.



In addition to this, emergency services have said that speed bumps also play a role in delaying ambulances, fire engines and police cars when responding to urgent calls - but road safety campaigners have commented on the negative impact it will have on the safety, with Rachel Maycock, spokeswoman for Living Streets, calling the idea ‘completely daft and irresponsible’.


A number of campaigners have joined in, writing to ministers warning that the removal of speed bumps will increase danger to children, despite the potential reduction to air pollution. Safety organisations say that the policy is motivated by the government’s desire to seem pro-motorist, in a time when multiple sanctions against drivers are causing much aggravation.

The main issue presented by the critics is that the blanket removal of speed humps is not the answer without plans to replace them with other physical measures. Dr Adrian Davis, professor of Health and Transport at the University of West of England, commented on this saying, "The fact is, numerous studies had shown that unless drivers are forced to slow down by physical obstacles like road humps they will continue to drive too fast in residential areas.”

Overall, the reaction tends to be that although speed bumps would indeed alleviate a certain amount of pollution, safety campaigners maintain that the security that speed bumps give is too valuable to risk, without a viable physical replacement. What do you think?