Petition - 20mph speed limit, a width limit, a lower weight limit and warning signs to reduce the dangerous nature of Telegraph Road

Response from Hampshire County Council, October 2018

I refer to your petition requesting traffic management measures on Telegraph Road, West End, including a 20mph speed limit, width restriction, reduced weight restriction, warning signs and a one-way system.

The County Council complies with Department for Transport criteria in setting local speed limits, which consider existing mean traffic speeds and road safety history. Current guidance encourages that speed limits should be self-enforcing and self-compliant so it is important that speed limits are set to reflect the road layout and conditions. The Police are responsible for traffic speed enforcement and they will not support proposed speed limits that they consider will not achieve a satisfactory degree of driver compliance and which are likely to create an ongoing enforcement problem.

In June this year a report was published on the outcomes achieved from a comprehensive review of 14 ‘pilot’ 20mph speed limits in Hampshire. The pilot schemes consisted of a mix of urban, residential and rural village centre areas across the County. The before-and-after speed data recorded for the pilot schemes demonstrated that reducing the speed limits in these areas had very little impact on driver behaviour.

The County Council has adopted a policy on the application of width restrictions that seeks to only provide such measures where it will result in a significant reduction in usage by wider vehicles as well as reduce related road casualties. In principle, whilst a width restriction can restrict larger vehicles from passing through an area, it cannot prevent legitimate access to the area for reasons such as for deliveries, collections and works. Enforcement of both width and weight restrictions is a complex and resource intensive operation as a Police Officer must observe a vehicle being driven entirely through a restricted area without stopping for a legitimate reason. Generally the Police are unlikely to support a proposal that imposes a greater resource liability than they can realistically make available and usually require these types of restriction to be self-enforcing through physical measures.

The extensive system of physical traffic calming measures in this case, including road humps and a build out, is a means of deterring through traffic without restricting access choices. This system features the most effective measures that may currently be applied on the highway network. Warning signs are currently in place for the road hump traffic calming and the priority working system is well signed.

Telegraph Road is already subject to a Traffic Regulation Order that applies a weight restriction of 7.5T. This is the lowest permissible environmental weight restriction that can be applied and signed under current legislation. This means that a vehicle over this weight, as indicated by a red and yellow marking applied to the rear of the vehicle, passing through Telegraph Road without stopping for legitimate access purposes is committing a violation of the Order. I’m afraid the County Council does not have the authority to enforce this restriction and concerns about violations should be reported to the Police. I note your request for an ‘Unsuitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles’ sign, however this is an advisory sign only and carries no legal backing that will enable enforcement. The signing currently in place is regulatory signing that is consistent with the Traffic Regulation Order, and it is therefore the most appropriate signing.

In respect of your request for a one-way system, although this type of restriction can be helpful in managing traffic flow, particularly in congested areas, there are some potential impacts that may not be popular in a residential area. One-way systems can often result in increased traffic speeds as drivers are more confident that they will not meet opposing traffic. There is the potential for on street parking to increase as there is no need to consider oncoming traffic that will need to pull over to give way. Additionally residents will have reduced access choices and may need to travel further to access their homes. There will also be an impact on traffic levels on alternative routes and at junctions, and the road safety implications of changes like this would require careful assessment.

Ongoing and challenging funding cuts have significantly affected our ability to investigate and implement routine traffic management measures. As a result, our resources are very much targeted at casualty reduction with priority given to locations with patterns or clusters of treatable injury accidents. We have access to the Police database of all injury accidents reported in Hampshire and this is used to formulate our traffic and safety scheme programmes. With no recurring history of casualty incidents throughout Telegraph Road, there is no justification for inclusion on our scheme programmes compared to other less fortunate locations at this time. A link to our policy can be viewed via the following link, along with further information on associated policy and criteria for specific traffic management measures.

I hope this clarifies the Council’s position.

Yours sincerely

Cllr R Humby
Executive Member for Environment and Transport