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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 17:05 GMT
Campaign to end speed bump 'pain'
Speed bump
The use of speed bumps was defended by Fife Council
MSPs have called for more research into the use of speed bumps after hearing complaints about the discomfort caused to chronic pain sufferers.

Disability rights campaigner Judith McCorrie, from Fife, wants humps removed and said she and many others experienced pain driving over them.

She launched a petition demanding that Fife Council replace its speed bumps. The council has defended its strategy.

Holyrood's petitions committee heard the issue on its visit to Dunfermline.

She believes that the use of speed bumps is a form of discrimination against disabled people and has called for the use of other traffic calming measures.

A lot of people with disabilities are having to avoid certain roads and areas just because of the pain experience
Judith McCorrie

Her petition calls on the council to stop using the humps as its default means of slowing down traffic.

"The problem is that when you actually go over the speed humps they always cause a jolt and for people with various disabilities and chronic pain conditions and other medical conditions it is obviously extremely painful," she said.

"As so many speed humps and speed cushions are being installed throughout Scotland it makes life very difficult.

"A lot of people with disabilities are having to avoid certain roads and areas just because of the pain experience, which I realised was a form of discrimination."

She said the report which was quoted to justify the use of speed bumps recognised that people with a mobility impairment could suffer extreme discomfort and pain.

If vehicles are travelling at appropriate speeds within the 20mph area then no discernible discomfort should be afforded to the vehicle user or passengers
Bob McLellan
Fife Council

Ms McCorrie said she hoped her petition had raised awareness of the problem.

Bob McLellan, Fife Council's director of transport services, said it had carried out a number of traffic calming schemes using a range of different measures, including speed bumps and speed cushions.

He said the decision on which measures to use was based on the individual site and the response to local consultation.

"If vehicles are travelling at appropriate speeds within the 20mph area then no discernible discomfort should be afforded to the vehicle user or passengers," he said.

"These speed reduction schemes are assessed before, during and after implementation and results have already shown in many instances a reduction in speed and accidents."

We asked for your views and experiences of speed bumps and whether they are an effective traffic calming and accident reduction measure. The following represents the balance of opinion we received.

We have speed bumps on many roads and they can do a fair amount of damage to my old car. We have speed bumps in the central retail park in the town and they must be about 8-10 inches high. I now avoid the retail park for that reason, so the shops there have lost a customer and I wonder how many others feel the same as myself?
Gerry Carty, Falkirk, Scotland

We can't please 100% of people 100% of the time. As long as people can't be depended on to drive responsibly traffic calming measures will be necessary. Instead of putting effort into forcing councils to use more expensive calming measures, effort should be directed into changing the attitudes of people who necessitate the measures in the first place.
Menzies, Edinburgh

I've driven over speed bumps at 20mph and I definitely feel the bump. Some of the metal box-like ones you get in low speed areas shake me about at 5mph. I can't imagine how painful they must be for people with spinal problems. There are no positive aspects to speed bumps - people driving over them at 3mph just causes people to overtake past school gates, which can hardly be considered a victory for pro-safety groups. As for me, my next car's going to be the biggest, best-sprung 4x4 I can find.
James Ashwin, Oxford, England

Speed bumps create a high amount of CO2. Every vehicle must slow down before the bump. The driver will then press down on the accelerator and cause a marked increase in CO2. Just watch the exhausts of vehicles going over these bumps.
Charlie, Berwickshire

I agree - speed bumps cause more problems than they solve. I also have to take a different route to and from my house due to recently installed obstacles. In my view traffic calming measures should be agreed with the local community rather than the current method, where they are inflicted seemingly randomly and usually in the wrong places.
Pete, Kilmarnock

My uncle spent most of the festive period in bed and in extreme discomfort after pulling muscles and trapping a nerve going over a speed cushion. He was definitely going well under 20mph as he was having to negotiate cars parked at the side of the obstacles. Speed bumps that go the whole length of the road are far preferable, although a uniform height should be introduced, I find my car bottoms out quite frequently.
Lally, Aberdeen

I drive an ordinary small car, but going over a poorly built speed bump led to damage to the brake lines under my car which I only discovered when the car refused to stop at red lights. I was very lucky not to have a serious accident. Road narrowing and bends in the road work much better and don't risk damage to cars or cause problems for ambulances and disabled people. It's a no-brainer.
Susan, Glasgow

I drive a 4x4, and personally find that the faster I drive over them the smoother it is. So I never slow down for them...
Stephen McDermott, Renfrew, Scotland

While it is true that speed humps do make drivers slow down, the square ones as installed around here create an additional hazard. The way to minimise the pain is to line your car up straight "astride" the hump, but that means you are concentrating on doing that and not looking out for other hazards such as pedestrians. It will be interesting to see if the actual accident rate increases due to the humps, albeit possibly lower speed accidents.
Steve Paterson, Edinburgh, Scotland

I feel that where speed bumps are clearly not working, advisory speed camera signs should be placed. These should not say "Speed Checks", but "Average Speed Checks". This way drivers have no way of knowing between which two points their speed is assessed, therefore are forced to slow down for the duration.
Michael Gibson, West Byfleet, UK

I believe that Fife Council are wasting money on these speed cushions especially with the number of them in and around Fife. Yes, I see a need for speed calming around residential areas and also schools however speed bumps and cushions are creating problems for the standard driver. Some cars cannot go over these bumps and cushions and are damaging the cars. Are Fife Council willing to pay for the damage? I can see problems if we get a really bad snow how do snow ploughs clear the road with these bumps and cushions in the way? I quite agree with speed calming but surely there is a better way than mounds of asphalt in the middle of the carriageways.
Jonathan Davies, Glenrothes, Fife

As another disabled person with chronic back pain, I can understand and support this campaign. In order to drive to and from my house, I have to cross around 10 of these before reaching normal roads which can cause me severe pain even crossing them at 5mph. The situation is made worse when you meet a lorry or bus and have to go over the highest part of the speed cushion rather than the low parts. I understand the need for speed reduction measures but would prefer the smart collapsing type that only affect you if you cross them at faster than the designated speed. The current ones, due to their design, do not slow down vans or lorries who are often the worst offenders for speeding and I have found through experience that if you take the speed bump at speed, it has less of a jolt.
James Black, Kirkcaldy, Scotland

I love speed bumps, I actively speed up for them, mind you I do drive my mum's car. Other speed calming methods are much more effective, I don't tend to speed up for the chicanes, that would be reckless thoughtless and careless.
Robert Wright, Edinburgh

I think they are a good idea unless there is a better way, but I do feel some of them seem very high and as a fellow "sufferer", I also experience pain and discomfort going over these objects. I tend to brace myself each time we approach these, not always possible either.
Elizabeth Lowrie, Glasgow, Scotland

I live in a 30mph zone, but some of the speed bumps are so steep, that even at 10mph there is a discernable bump coming down the other side. I don't have a bad back yet, but there are so many bumps to go over every day, I'm sure time will wear down the delicate mechanism of the spine and I will become a sufferer. Will I be able to claim from the councils for criminal damage?
John Graham, Edinburgh, Scotland

Bob McLellan's comment that "If vehicles are travelling at appropriate speeds within the 20mph area then no discernible discomfort should be afforded to the vehicle user or passengers" is difficult to comprehend. Has he spoken to all the disabled people in Fife, let alone Scotland. I suggest he does so before making such sweeping statements. My wife has a chronic pelvic condition resulting in constant pain which is exacerbated by the likes of speed bumps, pot holes and uneven surfaces at ANY speed. Would he suggest that she gives up work and just sits on a comfy chair at home?
Donald Marshall, Glasgow, Scotland

The use of and provision of e.g. more zebra crossings, traffic lights, roundabouts or changing priorities at certain junctions would have a far greater impact. Also get the police to use speed cameras on roads where there are speed problems as a deterrent - not the easy catch areas.
Steve Cowey, Dunfermline, Fife

English regions are removing bumps due to the problems caused - why do we have to continue down this route regardless? They don't work and the sooner this is recognised the better - the results quoted are in a few areas only and in the absence of any other attempted measures.
Del, Edinburgh

I don't see how speed humps provide any means of accident reduction. Anyone driving over a road ruined by such measures will know that you are concentrating on the speed bumps, not what is happening around. I have seen 2 children knocked off bikes at these speed humps and put this solely down to the driver focussing on the bumps. They should all be removed.
Kevin Smith, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire

Money is being wasted on speed bumps, where it should be spent on fixing terrible roads full of potholes. Speed bumps also speed up wear and tear of cars as the suspension is not built to deal with them, no matter how slow you go. Also so many streets are blocked off which increases congestion on main roads.
Munro Stewart, Dundee, Tayside

If people are suffering pain when going over bumps, maybe they should slow down. This seems another crazy law from the do-gooders...
Angus, Clacton

I am strongly in favour of all the traffic calming measures that can be dreamt up. However, speed bumps damaged the older of my two cars yet my brand new saloon doesn't even notice them. There are other measures, which are quieter, more comfortable for people like Ms McCorrie and just as effective if not more so.
Francis Smith, Rouen, France

Both my wife and I suffer from back pain and have to take a particular route home to avoid speed bumps on our estate - they were installed without any public consultation several years ago, and it has made getting around more difficult. It really annoys me when they're fitted on a 30mph road - you have to reduce your speed to 5-10mph to navigate them safely - this must also put lives at risk and make it hard for ambulance drivers/paramedics to care for patients.
Colin Wilson, Liverpool, UK

I agree. Whilst I was pregnant last year I found I suffered a lot of discomfort every time we went over speed humps, as a result we often took a different longer route as I couldn't bear it. I agree that what they do is valuable but some speed humps do seem excessive and even at 20mph they cause a severe jolt.
Debbie Bissell, Lichfield, UK

My dad is a taxi driver and he says that the speed bumps seriously damage his vehicle; not because he goes excessively fast but because there are so many of them. He spends the whole day driving and may go over hundreds in one day. This is not the best way to slow traffic and in fact some speed bumps actually force you to come to almost a complete stop because they are so severe. This in itself must be an accident risk. It is the typical case of punishing all for the few.
Dean Hall, Newcastle

The speed bump in our street has caused people to get stuck on the hill during bad snow. Last year and the year before some people couldn't get out of the street as one of the humps which is very steep is right at the brow of an already steep hill. We contacted the council about it and they didn't seem to care.
Eoghann, Livingston

At last, someone has complained officially. I have a very bad neck and those bumps are forever jolting it, however slowly one drives, especially on unfamiliar roads where one is not aware of these horrors' presence. I appreciate they are there to stop the joyriders but as always it's the few that ruin it for the majority.
S Martin, UK

"If vehicles are travelling at appropriate speeds within the 20mph area then no discernible discomfort should be afforded to the vehicle user or passengers." Where does Mr McLellan get these findings from? I think I'd like to see some evidence.
Sean Curran, Penicuik, Midlothian

We had "traffic calming" bumps installed on our road. It is a total waste of time and money; there has never being a problem with speeding cars in the area nor is there a school nearby. If the money was spent on public transport maybe we would not need a traffic calming area.
Nigel, Edinburgh

Here's why I think speed bumps are a disaster - it's the nanny state gone mad. They are meant to save children's lives and improve road safety, but it's a lazy way to do it. Rather than encouraging schools and parents to teach their kids how to get around town safely, councils put speed bumps all over town and damage cars, cause chronic injuries to bus and taxi drivers and disabled people. In my view, this does not encourage individuals to take any personal responsibility for taking care of themselves when out and about. In the long term, people will get lazy and careless, stop thinking about taking care when crossing roads and probably will put themselves at risk of greater accidents in the future. Especially when kids go abroad on holiday to places that don't yet have traffic bumps everywhere, they will probably be surprised to find they have to actually think for themselves and that the council has not produced a risk-free environment for them to live in. You can't create a risk free environment, so I don't know why nanny-councils bother trying.
David, Edinburgh

Speed bumps may be effective for traffic calming but are completely useless for people with neck and back problems. My wife and I have to avoid such roads because no matter how slow we go over these bumps they still cause pain. All councils should consider alternatives.
Brian Doncaster, Lincoln, England

I think they would be better off putting the tarmac in the potholes rather than creating humps. Maybe leaving lots of holes is a cheaper alternative to humps - certainly seems like it round here
Mark, Ballymena, County Antrim

Speed bumps can be effective in some cases but the damage caused to cars travelling at 10mph on certain roads in Paisley is a disgrace.
A Campbell, Paisley, Scotland

The problem I find with speed bumps is that they are badly designed. They should be profiled correctly to prevent discomfort inside a vehicle travelling at the appropriate speed for the road. In reality, they are always far too vicious with the result that vehicles either throw their occupants around or are driven in a stop-start fashion between bumps. This latter is dangerous as drivers have their attention on the bumps rather than on possible hazards in the road. It also makes a road noisy for residents with the continual acceleration and braking. So come on, you councils, get an expert in who knows how to correctly design the profiles. Better still, use other measures in place of bumps.
Colin, Wrexham, Wales

Our roads are dangerous enough at the best of times, so why do councils add extra hazards to the mix? It should be pointed out that speed bumps are potentially dangerous for motorcycle/scooter riders. It is not a pleasant experience to hit an unexpected speed bump when driving, but try the same thing when on a 2 wheeler.
Stuart, Dumbarton, Scotland

Ever since "speed cushions" were installed in our street there has been a spate of wing mirrors being "dunted" and knocked off residents' cars, plus other minor damage, as drivers try to avoid going over the bumps directly and steer too close to the parked cars. Instead of making the road "safer" they've made it even less safe - some bigger cars take the bumps as fast as ever, other cars steer around them, trucks drive down the white line in the centre of the street at full speed.
Jette Goldie, Edinburgh, Scotland

As much as speed bumps annoy me, they serve a purpose, and that purpose is to protect pedestrians, not to enrage people with disabilities.
Sarah-Jane Hall, Glasgow, UK

I requested a full width bump from Fife Council after a number of requests for speed reduction measures, including camera vans, failed to reduce drivers and motorcyclists flying up past a children's park in excess of 60mph. If you go over them slowly there is not bump.
Paul McGowan, Lochgelly, Fife

Speed bumps - what a waste of money. They do nothing to slow those drivers who habitually drive at excess speed.
Dave Cameron, Newport Wales

I am from Fife and I hate the fact that my local authority has wasted so much money on putting these stupid speed humps all over the roads, personally I think they are likely to increase accidents and dangerous driving as people drive along the middle of the road to lessen the effect of the bump, also the traffic "calming" measure of those silly islands on the one side of the road are extremely dangerous as people speed up to overtake it before the cars on the other side of the road reach it, it is a matter of time before there is a big crash because of this on Fife's roads. I completely agree with Ms McCorrie's point that the fact disabled people avoid these roads because of pain caused by speed bumps is discrimination; in fact, even for people without a disability such as myself, travelling over speed bumps does cause unpleasant jerks and jolts (and that is at 20mph, so what Bob McLellan says is absolute rubbish!) I feel angered that Fife Council obviously has too much money in its transport budget and feels the need to waste it on these pointless measures that do not work, rather than reallocate the money to areas requiring more attention.
Jennifer, Fife, Scotland

Bob McLellan, Fife Council's director of transport services, must be travelling in a 4X4 or a top of the range car.
R Carpenter, Glasgow

As a resident in a street covered by a 20mph restriction but without the accursed bumps, I have to say I have seen absolutely no reduction in speeds: if anything, some drivers seem to go faster, especially those driving buses apparently trying to make up for the time lost over the bumps in the adjacent streets.
Colin Nicholson, Markinch, UK

Speed bumps may reduce vehicle speeds but only in the immediate vicinity of the speed bumps rendering them mostly ineffective. They have however numerous downsides aside from those mentioned in this article. Vehicle emissions are greatly increased due to braking and acceleration. Noise levels are increased. They present a potential hazard to cyclists and motorcyclists. They increase wear in vehicle suspension components (they are after all an inverted pothole). They can also increase the response time for the emergency services.
Rachael, Edinburgh

In the vicinity of schools, some form of speed reduction is necessary but this may not need to be a speed bump. On other roads unless there has been an issue with speeding and/or a high accident rate I do not see the need. Yes it does slow the traffic down however there are places where a max of 30mph will keeping traffic moving efficiently. For some roads I would like to see the Risk Assessment justifying the need for speed bumps. With respect to construction of speed bumps, some are not continuous across the roads, this create problems with traffic as there try to drive over and around bumps with parked cars in the road.
Fred McCain, Edinburgh

Bob McLellan's comments are absolute rubbish. No matter the speed, those of us who have spinal problems do suffer pain. In addition I believe that local authorities will end up paying huge compensation bills longer-term for damage to vehicles as, regardless of speed, cars were never designed for constant driving over speed bumps.
Ian Crawford, Hamilton, Lanarkshire

I agree. I live in Shawlands in Glasgow and some of the speed bumps round here are disgraceful. There are massive ones situated at junctions and several of them are crumbling away meaning you can only go over them at a snails pace or else you run the risk of bottoming out on them or catching your bumper on them due to their uneven height.
Bob, Glasgow.

Break a leg and go over a speed bump. Even a minor break becomes absolute agony. I hate to think what it would be like for a chronic pain sufferer. No one disputes the reduction in speed and accidents. Just the necessity for speed bumps.
Jon Lowbridge, Aberdeen

I drive a Reliant 3 wheeler and have to crawl in 1st gear and at walking pace over many speed humps; the ones in my street are flat-topped pyramids that are especially bad. It is very dangerous to hit them at anywhere near 20 mph. They also have to be approached absolute centre to avoid my car being shaken violently from side-to-side. They have been responsible for many traffic jams including the local bus service, which I have heard has threatened to withdraw from the route because of the delays and difficulties associated with the speed humps. Conversely my street used to be a boy racer racetrack and since the speed humps were installed they have gone elsewhere.
James Smith, Dunipace Scotland

It has always baffled me that councils feel that they should put obstacles on roads which were created for the specific purpose of conveying traffic. Surely, the tried and tested method of dealing with speeding is by way of "Safety Camera Units" (a misnomer if ever I heard one!). I note that Bob McLellan defends the practice on the basis that drivers should be travelling at appropriate speeds "within the 20mph area". If they were doing so, the speed bumps would be pointless! I would also be interested to learn whether Fife only has bumps within 20mph areas as there is certainly no such restriction in Aberdeen where the bumps have been on 30mph roads for many years. Aside from being potentially damaging to people with disabilities, the bumps are also instrumental in damaging vehicle parts such as exhausts, tyres and shock absorbers; add to vehicle emissions and waste fuel (try to convince me that they have seen any driver - regardless of how careful - negotiate a bump without the use of brake and accelerator); are unsightly when not properly maintained: downright dangerous when not overly visible in the dark or when covered by snow and costly to install and upkeep. Other than these few minor drawbacks, I think the councils are totally justified in their use.
Peter Yule, Aberdeen, Scotland

What next?! Traffic signals to be changed because they discriminate against colour blind people?? If you go over a speed bump correctly - and slowly enough, you don't feel them - God forbid to think what speed you must have to be doing them to experience such discomfort.
Stacey Lee , Aberdeen, Scotland

I thought the council would have used the material for the speed bumps to fill the holes in the road in the 1st place. I did not think you would have been able to drive fast given the current condition of the roads.
Alan Bain, Edinburgh

My local council also has many speed bumps in place all over our area and is due to increase the number of these yet again. There are many other options available but the council opts for the cheaper and unpleasant type. We often take alternative routes to avoid them and my mother in law was ill for 2-3 months after a bus she was travelling in went over a bump too fast, she and her husband almost landed on the bus floor!! These bumps must be removed!!
Mrs Pauline Roberts, Knockentiber, Near Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire

Speed bumps do not work, since the Formula 1 wannabees (and taxi drivers) floor the accelerator after crossing the bump. Traffic islands are far more effective as they give the impression of the road narrowing.
Neil Small, East Kilbride, Scotland

All speed bumps do, apart from causing pain to those with disabilities, is to increase the likelihood of road rage. A much better answer is provided by those speed indicators which flash 'slow down' to those exceeding the speed limit. They work for me.
Nicholas Lee, Windsor, England

I totally agree with speed bumps. If you go over them slowly you experience no discomfort. They are required as too many people fail to take into consideration the risk they put others at with their speed. In my local area, very close to a school, we have recently had them installed and they work. Before these were put in there was a very real danger to the children at the school. The fact that the speed bumps jolt the car is the whole point behind them. You can go over them too fast and cause damage to the car or the driver can experience the jolt too, but quite frankly it is the car drivers own fault for failing to drive with due care and attention. Everyone knows that the law states you must drive with due care and attention so why then would someone be silly enough to complain when they are forced, by speed bumps, to do just that?

I would much rather people learned a painful lesson in their car about speeding than a child injured.
Gill Faichney, Glenrothes, Fife

I feel that the use of traffic 'calming' generally has got out of hand. Councils seem obsessed with placing obstacles on the road rather than maintaining them properly. That said, correctly placed speed bumps are still better than these dangerous traffic islands which reduce the road to one lane so that drivers have to give way - or have a head on collision! Now THAT'S insane.
David Lawrence, Kirkcaldy, Scotland

Speed humps are particularly ineffective in that they just entice drivers to speed up between them then slow right down when they get to the hump. The ONLY way that speed will be controlled is by electronically ensuring that the vehicle is not able to exceed the speed limit for longer than 10 seconds in every minute. The technology is there now - GPS and most cars are now electronic ignition/diesel electronically controlled - it is only a matter of time before this is incorporated as another safety feature in all car engine management systems.
Nick, N Yorks

I live in the city centre of Edinburgh and our area has just been under attack from a surge of new speed bumps. Being heavily pregnant I am suffering a lot of pain when driving over the bumps no matter how much the car slows down. I know that if I go past my due date all I will have to do is drive over a few speed bumps to set things off!! I do believe that speed bumps are needed to stop people speeding however, in our area, they have put in new ones that make no sense at all i.e. before turning into a junction/new road. Maybe the council should be concentrating on filling in the many potholes before adding new bumps to the roads.
Carol Paterson, Edinburgh, Lothians

The people complaining about jolting over speed bumps will be the same people who haven't grasped the concept of slowing down going over them. That's what they are for! Go over them at 15 or 20mph and there is no jolting.
David Young, Kirkcaldy Fife

I wouldn't agree that speed humps are discriminatory against the disabled, in that they can cause problems for all other road users. Poorly constructed speed humps can cause not only damage to the spine but additional damage to the suspension and/or undercarriage of a vehicle, I have to avoid certain roads in my area for fear of being 'beached'. Also, with all the recent environmental concerns it seems foolish to make drivers slow down and speed up needlessly every few hundred feet. There are other less obtrusive ways of calming traffic and I seriously think that local government should look into them before ploughing our money into wasteful projects.
Matt, Milngavie, Scotland

I think there should be far less use of speed bumps and greater thought given to the design of alternative traffic speed reduction measures. My daughter recently suffered a broken arm and she found very painful the jolting caused by going over speed bumps (even at very slow speeds). I therefore have every sympathy for people who have a long term problem.
Sheenagh Adams, Linlithgow, Scotland

It's even worse in Edinburgh with the council using speed bumps as a shortcut instead of having to change the speed limit in areas. Speed bumps are being erected on some main routes in 30mph zones forcing drivers to slow well below the limit to prevent damage to their cars. Even at less than 20mph there is a heavy thud as you cross some. If the council wants people to drive slower why not just drop the speed limit on the road instead, surely cheaper to stick up a couple of new signs instead of speed bumps every hundred yards as well.
Stuart, Edinburgh

I think alternative calming measures should be used. Where I stay one of the reasons they put speed bumps in place was because my mate's cousins was killed by a bus, but the buses can drive right over the bumps, makes no sense at all.
James Davie, Glasgow, Scotland

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