For many motorists, speed humps are an all too familiar sight on Britain’s roads. But although they are implemented by councils with road safety in mind, leading independent consumer motoring expert, Honest John, questions whether the long term impact on the condition of roads, as well as the safety of vehicles, is being taken into account.
“The excessive spread of speed humps on Britain’s roads has gone on virtually unchecked for years, with their perceived effectiveness at improving road safety seen as a green light to place them almost anywhere,” says Honest John. “However, I believe another important safety consideration is consistently being ignored – that of road conditions which then have an impact on a vehicle’s safety.”
Honest John believes repeatedly traversing speed humps causes long term damage to various parts of a vehicle, and especially the tyres and suspension. But he also believes it’s not just vehicles that take punishment from speed humps; the areas surrounding them also take a pounding and in particular the roads on which they are placed – adding to costs for Councils already under enormous pressure to make savings.
“Any vehicle that mounts a speed hump sends shockwaves through the ground, damaging the substructure of the road and potentially even buildings and walls in close proximity” explained Honest John. “The potholes and broken surfaces surrounding speed humps testify to the damage they can cause (see picture). Even UK building regulators have recognised the damage speed humps can do and require that they are not built within 25 metres of bridges, subways or tunnels.”
Of course, the damage to vehicles from speed humps, is also an issue for motorists. When travelling over a hump, the weight of the vehicle is distributed to the inside of a tyre rather than evenly, and the sloping design of humps effectively drags the edge of the tyre along them, putting a large amount of pressure on the tyre and body of the wheel. This increased stress on tyres has serious consequences, as they can become worn at a much faster rate and, in some extreme cases, the damage can even lead to the side walls collapsing at high speed, endangering driver and passenger safety significantly.
Travelling over speed humps also increases wear on the suspension, in particular the shock absorbers, which have a vital effect on braking and stopping distances. And in some cases with larger vehicles or those with a low ground clearance, speed humps can cause direct damage to the underside and bodywork of the vehicle.
“I am convinced speed humps can present a real threat to road users – as well as local government budgets!” concluded Honest John. “But the powers that be refuse to consider any evidence against them.
“Whilst many councils and industry experts accept pothole damage, few acknowledge that not only damage to cars but also to the structure of the roads themselves are caused by the installation of speed humps. By continuing to ignore this problem, councils and legislators risk not only endangering drivers, but also damaging Britain’s road network. I intend to continue warn of these dangers until the authorities sit up and take notice.”