What they don't want you to know about 'speed humps'
Speed humps are fundamentally ineffective.
- Depending upon the vehicle and the hump design, going over a hump at a higher speed may cause less discomfort than a lower speed.
- Sergeant Mike Peck, a Police officer from Humberside (or should that be Humperside!) boasted that his new Subaru Impreza patrol car could 'skim' speed humps at 70 mph! Details
- There is no safety benefit whatsoever in slowing to the snail's pace necessary to negotiate humps with minimum discomfort.
- Speed humps often force drivers to slow down to a speed that is far less than the speed limit in force on the road.
Accelerating after negotiating a hump generates more pollution than if the hump hadn't been there.
- Research carried out in Austria on a mile long stretch of road with six humps and a 40kph speed limit showed that cars negotiating the humps emmitted 10 times more nitrogen oxide, 3 times more poisonous carbon monoxide, and 25% more carbon dioxide, than vehicles maintaining a constant speed. Fuel consumption rose from 7.9 litres to nearly 10 litres per 100 km. The report concluded: "A regular traffic flow would therefore always be more environmentally friendly".
- The Transport Research Laboratory in the United Kingdom conducted emissions tests on roads with a 75 metre hump spacing and found CO emissions increased by 70–80%, Hydro-carbons by 70–100%, and CO₂ by 50–60%.
- Norwich Evening News — Speed humps bad for environment
Inventor finds speed humps increase carbon emissions by one third
Contrary to popular belief, speed humps actually increase noise levels.
- Braking may generate noise, especially with larger vehicles.
- Tyre noise will be greater than on a flat road surface.
- Traversing the hump may cause items in the vehicle to fall or rattle generating noise; milk floats in residential areas at 5 o'clock in the morning are a particular problem.
- Vehicles accelerating after a hump generate significantly more noise than had they been travelling at a constant speed.
- Drivers in some countries have become so incensed at speed humps that they have taken to sounding their horns whenever they go over them. Speed humps are often installed after demands from local activists, so drivers feel this sort of protest is fully justified.
- In November 2002, builder Ian Beesely of Oxford was so fed up with a speed hump outside his house which was disturbing his sleep, that he used his JCB to dig it up. Despite five weeks of complaints to the council, the council had refused to remove the hump.
- Speed Humps are one of the issues being tackled by the Noise Abatement Society
- Cambridge Evening News — Villagers get the hump over noise of 'calming'
Repeatedly traversing humps causes long-term damage to vehicle components, especially the suspension. This in turn has serious implications for safety and stopping distances. Shock absorbers are key in ensuring vehicles are able to stop effectively and safely - perhaps if a child ran in front of a car. Residents of areas plagued with speed humps find they have to replace their shock absorbers far more often. Humps can even cause immediate damage to the bodywork of large vehicles such as buses, to the underside of cars with low ground clearance, and wreck front number plates, spoilers and exhausts. Goods carried in vehicles can also be damaged.
The impact of vehicles traversing a speed hump sends shock waves through the ground. Depending upon the nature of the soil, the proximity and construction of buildings, the weight of vehicles, and the frequency of traffic, these shock waves may cause structural damage to nearby properties. If you don't believe that, read the official UK regulations stating where humps can be installed - they specifically exclude anywhere within 25m of bridges, subways, or tunnels.
Drivers judging how to negotiate humps are distracted from watching out for more serious hazards — like children.
When the London Borough of Barnet removed its speed humps, accidents reduced by 14.9% during the first six months of 2005.
Speed humps may cause traffic to divert from a good road to one which is far less capable of carrying the traffic safely, this increases overall accident risk.
At night, and in poor visibility, humps cause headlight beams to rise.
- Oncoming traffic may be dazzled.
- In residential areas, this causes annoyance to occupants of houses ahead of the vehicle.
- Drivers waiting to pull out from side roads immediately ahead of a speed hump, may mis-interpret this apparent flash as a signal to pull out. This may necessitate very abrupt braking and other evasive manoeuvres by both parties to avoid collisions.
Humps cause unnecessary discomfort to drivers and passengers. Frequent exposure to humps can cause back pain.
"...speed humps slow ambulances down, damage the vehicles, and worsen the ride for patients..."
Mark Singleton, Team Leader, London Ambulance Service, 2002-10-14
Humps on bus routes present a serious danger to bus passengers, especially the elderly.
The jolt caused by a hump whilst walking along the aisle, or using the stairs on a double-decker could easily cause a fall, resulting in serious injury. Humps present a danger not just to people in vehicles, but to motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Speed humps can deflect vehicles laterally — causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. This is a particular problem where local authorities have been reckless enough to install speed humps on bends or near junctions, or where the speed hump does not cover the full width of the road. The problem is exasperated by rain, snow or ice.
Humps discriminate against the severely disabled, elderly frail people, and those with serious back or neck problems.
Disabled people may have to travel in a wheelchair strapped into a vehicle. Jolts from speed humps may cause such persons severe pain, and even permanent injury, as a result they may be unable to traverse humps safely and are thus prevented from using the road altogether. Humps in residential areas may effectively prevent these people from leaving their own homes by vehicular means.
- "RCDA (Redcar and Cleveland Disability Access) oppose the introduction of traffic calming measures such as speed humps due to the impact they have on disabled drivers and passengers." As quoted by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
- This issue is discussed in great detail by RADA (Road Access for Disabled Americans).
We thoroughly recommend you visit this site.
“When I worked at Guy's Hospital in the 1980s, the management installed humps to reduce traffic speed on internal roads. Some time later, an ambulance was bringing an accident victim into the hospital. When it crossed one of the humps the casualty's simple spinal fracture became a complete spinal cord injury that did not reverse. He was left paraplegic and the humps were removed within 24 hours.”
G.J., in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, 18 Mar 2006
Two firefighters in Sacremento, California were injured in seperate incidents by the jolt from a speed hump when they hit their heads on the roof of the cab. Both suffered vertebral compression, one was forced to take early retirement, the other was awarded permanent disability status.
For funeral cortèges, speed humps cause distress to mourners. Trying to drive a funeral vehicle conveying a coffin over a speed hump with any degree of dignity is simply impossible. See this article from the The Wimbledon Guardian, and note the total lack of concern from the council.
Most serious of all is the delay which humps enforce on emergency vehicles.
Ambulances rushing an injured patient to hospital may have to slow to a ridiculously low speed to negotiate a hump; in cases of severe injury they may have to find an alternative route to avoid the hump altogether.
- Research by the Fire Department in Portland, Oregon, USA, shows that a fire engine is delayed by up to 10 seconds per hump, putting lives in danger. Count the number of humps between your house and the nearest fire station to work out how long the fire engine will be delayed getting to your house.
- A study conducted by the Fire Department of Austin, Texas, showed an increase in travel time of up to 100% by ambulances traveling over humps while transporting injured patients.
- An analysis carried out for the City of Boulder, Colorado, shows that 85 people are likely to die due to delays to emergency vehicles, for every one life that may be saved by speed humps. Details
"Vertical deviations such as speed humps and speed cushions slow down emergency ambulances and adversely affect patient care in a number of situations."
Karen Higginson, Avon Ambulance Service; reported in the Bath Chronicle 2004-04-16
"We already know from the London Ambulance Service that so-called 'traffic calming' causes over 500 deaths a year in London alone, and now the police have confirmed it affects their response times too. The evidence is clear — road humps are a menace which are endangering Londoners."
Brian Coleman, Conservative London Assembly Member; 2003-12-03
"For every life saved through traffic calming, more are lost because of ambulance delays."
Sigurd Reinton, Chairman, London Ambulance Service; Jan 2003.
"They affect our attendance times. Each ramp delays our attendance by ten seconds. In fires, minutes can cost lives."
Divisional Officer Dean Johns, London Fire Brigade; Oct 2002.
"We have certain standards to meet and we have to have vehicles at the scene of a Category A emergency within eight minutes. That's a life-or-death situation like a heart attack. Before road humps came in we used to be able to get from the station to Acomb within the required time, but now it can take up to ten minutes."
Geoff Farnworth, divisional officer, North Yorkshire Ambulance Service; 26 June 2000
"Speed humps do slow our responses very much. These humps slow our vehicles to an absolute crawl, virtually having to come to a complete stop on some of them to avoid damaging our expensive vehicles. ... it would truly help our service to the citizens if we can get the truth out."
Lt. David J. Dryden, Bernalillo County Fire Department, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; 15 Feb 2000
"In one minute, a fast-burning fire can destroy a building. One minute can be the window of opportunity for a critically injured child, heart attack victim or other emergency. A criminal can escape the scene of a crime in less than a minute. For fire, ambulance and police vehicles, every second counts. A delay of just one minute due to speed humps ... can mean the difference between life and death. Inefficient traffic flow on an access route to a hospital puts lives at stake. Liability issues associated with traffic calming are hardly ever considered."
Canada Safety Council — Traffic Calming Versus Safety
“It's recommended that speed humps not be on primary emergency response routes”
Chief James Breen, Albuquerque Fire Department, New Mexico, USA. Oct 2010
N.M. Town Removes Speed Humps for Emergency Vehicles
Speed humps in the vicinty of a house will reduce its market value as potential buyers will be put off by the associated problems.
"Speed humps probably have little impact on overall accident rates. However, the real benefit of speed humps comes from a perceived increase in safety and liveability due to lower traffic speeds."
Berkerley City Council, California 1995
"I'm afraid I was responsible in the first job I had as a minister for introducing road humps in this country. It was an awful mistake."
“Between 1972 and 1975 I was a senior police officer in Swindon, Wiltshire. During that time, the town's road safety officer had a speed hump installed at a multi-road junction outside the fire station. Within a few days, a woman cyclist rode out of the fire station, turned left and struck the hump at an angle. She lost her balance and was killed by a motor vehicle. The accident was wholly attributed to the speed hump, which was removed very soon afterwards.”
L.S., Chingford, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, 18 Mar 2006
On June 21, 1994, 18 year old Amy White of Julian, California, stopped to get flowers for her parents' anniversary. When the flowers didn't fit in the back of her friend's car properly, Amy sat in the very back of the car to hold them in place. After taking a short ride, the car hit a speed bump and Amy was thrown from her seat, hitting her head. For the next three years Amy suffered from her injury. On November 4, 1997, Amy died at home.
Article from the Daily Aztec (San Diego State University Student Newspaper)
Councils invariably claim that speed humps have been installed 'in response to local demand', and that an 'extensive consultation' has been carried out. Local demand usually consists of one local busy-body who writes to the council demanding that 'something must be done'. Many councils positively incite such actions by inviting people to complain about 'speeding' on their websites.
Consultations usually consist of a microscopic notice in the back of the local paper, an A4 notice with normal size text fixed to a lamppost for a few days, and a letter drop to the few houses beside where the speed humps are to be installed. Drivers are not notified because councils don't want them to object. Councils in this country no longer believe that drivers should be involved in the democratic process when it comes to anything to do with roads.
Speed humps are increasingly being installed where there is no need for them. Many private car parks, private roads, and industrial estates have them. Why? Have they ever had problems with people driving recklessly? Is there a law requiring them?
No, they are installed by brainless bureaucrats purely because they think it is the right thing to do.
Drivers need to point out that it is not. Complain. Demand they are removed.
Speed humps are Dumb, Dirty, Destructive, Dazzling, Discriminatory, Disabling, Discredited, & Deadly.
They cause Damage, Decibels, Distraction, Diversion, Discomfort, Delay, Deflection, Danger, & Devaluation.
The solution is simple:
Every single speed hump in the country should be demolished!
Speed Humps are always an ineffective and inappropriate solution to road safety concerns.
The ABD calls instead for road safety initiatives to concentrate on better training that would make drivers realise the need to drive slowly in residential streets, better signing of hazards, and better police enforcement (by police officers — not cameras) that would target those who do not act responsibly.
It is time the majority stopped being made to suffer because of a tiny minority.
"...in many people's eyes, road humps have become hated symbols of bullying officialdom..."
Oxford Mail Editorial 2002-11-30
Have you suffered damage to your vehicle or house due to speed humps?
Have you suffered injury whether in a vehicle or as a cyclist or pedestrian?
Have you taken successful legal action against anyone?
If so we want to hear from you.
Please send full details. Photographs would be useful.
Petition & Government Response
In July 2007, the government received a petition signed by 6622 people calling for the scrapping of all speed humps. In their response we note the following points:
- The government continue to peddle the absurd claim that a 1mph reduction in speed reduces accidents by 5% despite this patently absurd claim being shown to be invalid by the ABD some years earlier. However, we note that they now say "about 5%".
- The government admit that 'excessive exposure to repeated loading from humps could lead to the prolapse of an unhealthy disc', though exactly what constitutes 'excessive' is not stated.
- The government admits that 'those suffering from osteoporosis could be more susceptible to injury', but offers no solution to such people.
- The government admits that 'Minimal changes in suspension and tyre wear were found when vehicles tested at higher speeds'. As you might guess, 'minimal' is not defined.
- On first reading, it appeared the government were refusing to acknowledge the many objections that have been put forward by emergency vehicle drivers ("The overwhelming result of this exercise was that the emergency services had no concerns that road humps effected their performance"), however, it was then pointed out to us that they had used the word "effected" not "affected".
To take the spin out of their weasel words, they are saying that speed humps do not permit the emergency services to perform their role adequately. So unbelievably, they admit speed humps impact on emergency vehicles but do so in a way in which they hope no-one will notice.
Elsewhere on the ABD website
Check your local council has complied with the regulation relating to humps: