This is a guest post, written by Mike Fieldhouse, Labour candidate for Prittlewell at the 2016 local elections. As such, the views and opinions expressed may differ radically from your blogger’s own. Some of them may even make sense…
Speed hump, that is. When I’m out talking to residents of Southend on their doorsteps, one of the most frequently raised complaints is the speed of some cars along residential streets. I often discuss with people ways of slowing traffic down including the use of speed humps, speed cameras, electronic flashing speed limit signs, etc.
The statistics on this speak for themselves – on average, between 2012 and 2014, 64 people were seriously injured and 2 people killed every year on Southend’s roads. Tragically in the five years to 2014 there were 46 children either killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents in Southend too, with the vast majority of them being pedestrians.
Parents ban their children from playing at the front of their homes for fear that a reckless driver will career into them, and exiting from your driveway or parking place becomes a game of Russian roulette if you live near a bend in the road.
So what’s the best way to tackle this problem?
Speed humps really seem to polarise opinion with many motorists strongly against them. The fact is that most drivers are law abiding citizens who are careful and considerate roads users. Speed humps these days, seem on the whole, to be better designed than their ancestors of a decade or two ago that appeared intent on ripping off your car’s oil sump if you crossed them at speeds exceeding that of a tortoise on valium. That said, I still feel that that they probably don’t do a car’s suspension and tracking any good. For any driver intent on speeding, it also becomes a challenge to race from one hump to the next as fast as possible too.
The fact of the matter is that the speed limit is too high in residential areas. A pedestrian hit by a car at 30 mph has a 1 in 12 chance of being killed, at 20 mph this figure plummets to 1 in 66!
I am wholeheartedly in favour of introducing a speed limit of 20 mph on all residential roads within the borough of Southend. This has been done by other councils in England, such as Brighton & Hove, where they’ve seen a 25 % reduction in serious injuries, and fatalities falling to zero in the first year of operation. To see a similar reduction in casualties across Southend would translate into around 18 fewer serious injuries or deaths per year which means a great deal of suffering could be sparred the victims and their family and friends, to say nothing of the cost incurred by public services with each awful incident.
I believe the way forward is to make the act of speeding unacceptable in the public conscience, in much the same way that drink-driving has become over the past couple of decades. Enforcement of a lower speed limit is an area that has to be looked at too in order to address the problem of the small minority determined to be inconsiderate, irresponsible or careless drivers. But first, let’s get the speed limit lowered, start getting casualty figures down then concentrate on changing the behaviour of offenders and driving the message home “Kill your speed, not a child!”