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Speed check: which way ahead?

News analysis

ICE president Mark Whitby and RIBA president Paul Hyett this week challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair to take road deaths seriously. NCE examines to conflicting facts of the issue and assesses the life saving role civil engineers must play.

Since the motor car was invented speed has been a thorny issue.

Despite their modest performance compared to modern vehicles, even the earliest cars immediately claimed victims both behind and in front of the wheel.

The days of insisting on red flag carriers walking in front of every vehicle are long gone.

Yet the point highlighted by Mark Whitby and Paul Hyett this week is that as design professionals, we must not sit back and accept the problem. We must identify the causes and prompt social and legislative changes needed to allow improvements to flow.

But what is the current situation on our roads? What are the facts and who has the experience?

Much has been made lately about the merits of using speed cameras to control traffic speeds around the UK. Should they be painted bright yellow or does this simply pander to the proroads lobby?

But of course there are many other initiatives under way and important issues to consider when it comes to boosting safety on our roads. NCE has attempted to bring together as many as possible over the next few pages.

Certainly these facts and points of view highlight the importance of the engineer's role in finding solutions. And if Whitby and Hyett push ahead with their planned programme to tackle the current problems it will present a chance for the profession to take a lead on this important issue.

So no matter where you sit in the debate, make sure you have the facts. Then ensure your views are heard.

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