Transport and Road Safety Manifesto

This is a list of proposals for transport and road safety policy based on the overall themes of this site. I have deliberately concentrated on relatively modest and achievable ideas rather than blue-sky thinking.

Speed Limits

  • The general motorway speed limit to be raised to 80 mph, with 70 mph retained in areas of tight curvature and closely-spaced junctions
  • A more consistent approach to be adopted to speed limit setting, with all highway authorities required to adhere to central guidelines. In particular:
    • 30 mph limits only to be used in built-up areas (say with a minimum of 66% frontage development)
    • The use of 40 mph limits on high-quality suburban and partially developed roads to be recommended
    • Sub-NSL limits to be used very sparingly on rural roads in areas of significantly heightened risk
  • The distinction between 20 mph “limits” and “zones” to be abolished - all 20 mph limits to be signed with repeaters
  • As a general principle, no point in a 20 mph limit to be no more than 600 yards from a 30 mph limit
  • Proposed speed limit changes to be advertised in advance in a way that gives drivers using the road an opportunity to object
  • A trial scheme to allow HGVs to legally travel at 50 mph on designated high-quality single-carriageway rural A-roads such as the A9 from Perth to Inverness to be introduced
  • All official studies into external vehicle speed control to be abandoned

Speed Cameras

  • All Safety Camera Partnerships to be abolished and the responsibility for cameras returned solely to the police. Bodies carrying out enforcement should never be able to benefit financially from prosecutions
  • All enforcement by Talivans to be discontinued - all mobile enforcement to involve stopping and speaking to the driver at the time of the offence
  • All static cameras to be specifically signed in advance stating the applicable limit and the reason for the camera
  • The rationale for each static camera to be placed in the public domain, including what alternative measures were considered and why they were rejected
  • Enforcement by static cameras to be decriminalised (except where drivers are spoken to at the time of the offence) as they are unable to provide satisfactory indentification evidence and require the accused to incriminate themselves
  • I would not set any targets for the overall numbers of static cameras, but believe that the measures above would restrict their use to locations where they are genuinely likely to be effective

Police Enforcement

  • All police forces to reinstate dedicated traffic divisions and the number of traffic officers to be increased by at least 25% to provide a more visible police presence on the roads
  • Although police forces should have overall road safety targets, officers should not be given individual targets relating to the number of prosecutions
  • Although traffic police may at times carry out intensive campaigns to address particular issues such as mobile phones or drink-driving, overall they should adopt a holistic approach to combating bad driving rather than simply seeking to maximise the number of “pulls”.
  • Provide a more visible traffic police presence in urban areas - currently they are rarely seen away from motorways and arterial roads
  • Remove the current prohibition on using hand-held mobile phones in stationary vehicles. I am sceptical about the value of the mobile phone ban but recognise its removal would send an inappropriate signal to drivers that phone use was now acceptable

Traffic Calming

  • Introduce an immediate nationwide moratorium on the installation of new calming measures involving vertical deflections
  • An official enquiry to be held into the safety performance of traffic calming schemes involving vertical deflections and the extent to which they cause damage to vehicles
  • All highway authorities to designate a network of strategic routes for emergency services where there should be no vertical calming

Road Building

  • I recognise that political and economic constraints currently make the construction of new strategic roads on greenfield alignments unlikely
  • However approval should be given and/or construction accelerated of numerous "no-brainer" schemes which have already been designed in detail such as, in the North-West, the SEMMMS road, A34 Alderley Edge bypass, A533 New Mersey Crossing and A5117 link from M56 to Sealand
  • Consideration to be given to dualling single stretches of major primary routes such as A49 Warrington-Ross, A17 Newark-King’s Lynn and A1 Morpeth-Dunbar, where single-carriageway formations increase danger and make journey times longer and less predictable
  • New bypasses of towns above 25,000 population to be normally built to at least at-grade dual carriageway standard
  • Where possible, existing trunk roads of dual grade-separated character (e.g. A14) to be upgraded to motorway status
  • To combat the growing problem of accidents caused by tired drivers, a programme started to provide designated rest areas on all primary routes at 10-15 mile intervals with parking, picnic area and toilets

Driver Training

  • The current DSA L-test is basically adequate and does not need major overhaul
  • The theory test should concentrate wholly on driving skills and drop any questions about the environment and "sustainable transport"
  • The “Pass Plus” course to be made compulsory for all newly qualified drivers (this will ensure they are trained on motorways wherever this is reasonably practical)
  • If drivers have failed three successive tests they must wait 12 months before taking another one
  • The government to introduce an official certified advanced driver qualification scheme which would give worthwhile discounts, for example on insurance. This would be basically carried out by third-party bodies whose testing procedures would be officially approved
  • All drivers to produce evidence that they can meet the L-test eyesight standard every three years
  • More use to be made of remedial training schemes for drivers convicted of careless driving and similar offences

Road Tolling

  • No new toll roads except where providing new estuarial or island crossings
  • Government to investigate the costs and benefits of buying out the M6Toll concession
  • No new congestion charging schemes of any kind
  • The value and boundary of the London congestion charge to be frozen indefinitely. Its future would then be in the hands of politicians and the electorate
  • All studies into nationwide road user charging to be scrapped

Road User Taxation

  • Government to undertake not to increase the inflation adjusted value of fuel duty for at least 10 years
  • A sliding scale of duty to be introduced to smooth out sharp fluctuations in the oil price - perhaps compensating for 50% of movements in the base price
  • The current banded system of VED provides a confusing set of trivial discounts and should be simplified either as a single rate or two bands with a cut-off figure around 150 g/km CO2
  • The minimum taxable benefit for company cars to be raised from 15% to 20% of the list price to more accurately reflect the value of the benefit
  • Scale charges for private fuel for company cars to be scrapped, as they provide a perverse incentive to drive further, and private fuel to be taxed as used


  • No change to the current legal blood alcohol level or police testing powers. With their current powers, there are no realistic circumstances where the police might wish to carry out a breath test but are prevented from doing so
  • The increased traffic police numbers and presence will in themselves increase the deterrent to offending
  • Move to a more intelligence-based and targeted enforcement approach
  • Publicity campaigns to take a more realistic line, in particular to warn drivers about the "morning after" risk and advise them how to avoid it
  • Give magistrates limited discretion not to disqualify first-time offenders if there are strong extenuating circumstances


  • Although such measures are tempting, it is not a realistic policy option to insist on compulsory insurance and/or licensing for pedal cyclists
  • A limited number of high-profile enforcement campaigns to be carried out against cyclists running red lights, riding on pavements and riding at night without lights, to underline the message that cyclists are not above the law
  • As so many council-provided cycling facilities are condemned by knowledgeable cyclists, an official study to be undertaken to arrive at a consistent approach to road design to enable motorists and cyclists to share the road safely
  • All official targets for increasing the number of cycle journeys to be abandoned


  • All bus lanes only to operate when there is at least one scheduled bus every ten minutes, otherwise they are simply a waste of roadspace
  • Bus stop laybys to be retained and restored where possible
  • Subsidy for bus operations to be assessed against genuine social need, and in general to apply only during the school/working day


  • The system of government owning the track but passenger and freight services being privately operated makes sense and should be retained
  • Determined efforts to be taken to reduce subsidy requirements, for example
    • Deregulation of most fares and service patterns
    • And end to safety gold-plating and a recognition that safety improvements must be funded by the farepayer, not the taxpayer
    • Subsidised services to be restricted to a maximum of one train per hour on urban routes and one every two or three hours on rural ones. Anything more must pay for itself
    • No public funding for any infrastructure permitting speeds over 90 mph - if worthwhile it must be funded commercially
  • Investigation to be carried out into private ownership and operation of minor routes in a manner half-way between a preserved railway and a fully commercial operation, with less onerous regulatory standards, perhaps traded off against a 40 mph maximum speed limit

Air Travel

  • While I have nothing against air travel, it must be recognised that it enjoys a uniquely favourable position in terms of planning and taxation, while being to a large extent a luxury compared with land and sea transport
  • Liaise with other EU countries to implement a standard system of taxation of air travel which goes some way to redressing the balance vis-a-vis roads
  • Air travel expansion to be assessed against the same criteria as roads
  • This would probably end major airport expansion, with slots being auctioned commercially to the highest bidder

Planning Policy

  • The current generalised presumption against private car use in planning policy to be removed
  • Government to give a commitment not to introduce any form of workplace parking tax
  • All new dwellings apart from those in the centre of large cities, and sheltered accommodation for the elderly, to provide at least one off-road parking space for each bedroom
  • The standard size of domestic garages to be increased to reflect the increased size of modern cars. Garages should ideally have internal dimensions of at least 18' x 9'
  • All new office developments except in the centres of major cities to provide on-site parking based on a realistic assessment of the number of employees and visitors who will use it

(Last updated March 2007)

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