June 21, 2011

Do sleeping policemen give you the hump? Owners of fragile or low-slung vintage and performance cars – along with the frail, incontinent, and spinally injured – will welcome the recent announcement that the Department for Transport (DfT) is to light a bonfire under the tangled skeins of red tape holding local authorities back from considering other traffic calming measures.

Traffic humps have proliferated up to now because councils have been able to erect them without seeking the DfT approval required for signs on sticks and road painting. But, that’s all about to change, according to Road Safety Minister Norman “Meaty Chunks” Baker.

From now on, councils can choose with impartiality between the various available traffic calming options available. With humps costing around £450, signposts £175, and road markings now just £45, the econometer is expected to swing back towards less suspension-damaging speed limiting measures.

Aside from damaging vehicles passing over them and causing injured persons in built-up areas to wince repeatedly in excruciating pain as they bounce their way to hospital, speed bumps are also unpopular because they: add to CO2 emissions as drivers speed up and slow down, annoy local residents by causing additional noise due to braking and acceleration, cause drivers to veer about the road unpredictably as they attempt to avoid those narrow ones, increase emergency vehicle response times by 3-5 seconds per hump, and all that kind of thing generally.

One way or another, they don’t seem very popular.

If the tide is finally turning against the blight of speed cushioning, digging them up and putting up signs could help get Britain back to work. It worked for Hitler with those autobahns! Or Big Society volunteer groups could get out at the weekend with picks and shovels and take the lo-cost DIY approach.

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