It’s a surprise only that it has taken so long for the scientific world to cotton on to the fact that speed humps cause air pollution!
The recent report from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced that “smooth” driving would reduce the air pollution which is blamed for 25,000 deaths a year. They say that local authorities should therefore consider redesigning speed humps to avoid vehicles needing to slow down and speed up when crossing them. Why does this matter? Because when the vehicle accelerates – as you do after meeting a speed hump – emissions can increase significantly for a period. And even the action of braking as you approach the hump releases quantities of tiny particles of brake and tyre material. These can themselves be very damaging to health, as their tiny size means that they can be sucked deep into the lungs.
But what about the popular speed cushions which can be straddled by the vehicles wheels, making for a smoother crossing? In fact, these devices are themselves a menace, and cause untold damage to tyres, particularly on the hidden inside edge, to say nothing of increased wear and tear on suspension components.
If you have any doubt about this, just take a look at the sides of a hump which has been in use for some time – the tarmac is inevitably broken up. Which is why many motoring experts advocate crossing these horrors by running one wheel over the centre of the hump, with the other on the level roadway beside the hump. This of course slows your crossing of the speed hump, creating increased emissions – a no-win situation!
Are more 20mph zones coming?
So what’s the alternative? NICE are proposing a number of recommendations, the most realistic of these, at least for the type of urban roads where speed humps are most likely to be lurking, is the imposition of additional 20mph zones. Not a popular move, for sure, but at least this should curb the most polluting harsh braking and acceleration behaviour of most of us as we cross speed humps.
A plus point for electric cars
Interestingly, speed-hump-related emissions of an electric car are much reduced over a conventionally-fuelled vehicle, not least because much if not all of the necessary braking is done by regeneration, avoiding or minimising the creation of particles of brake material. So maybe one outcome of the NICE report will be the introduction of local regulations to restrict some roads to electric-vehicle-only use. This would certainly encourage the uptake of electric cars, the development of which is proceeding apace.
Indeed, recent news that a consortium of car manufacturers ranging from Audi to Volkswagen have committed to introducing a standardised network of charging stations across Europe, starting next year. No just any old charging stations, either – they should charge at several times the speed of the much-praised Tesla Supercharger system. And the best bit is that this unprecedented joint development by the manufacturers, although led by a group of manufacturers, including Ford, who collectively sell the vast majority of British of not European motors, is open to other manufacturers to joint, giving the potential for a truly common charging standard in a few years time, rather than the collection of incompatible systems presently available.
Interested? Read more here:-
NICE draft guidelines on emissions https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/GID-PHG92/documents/draft-guideline