Traffic management is leading to costly delays for the UK taxpayer, according to a report by former Conservative minister Grant Shapps.
We’re Jammin' published by Mr Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, argues that councils ‘are spending large sums of money installing and maintaining traffic equipment, like traffic lights and instructional signs, that are too often unnecessary and exacerbating congestion’.
Grant Shapps MP, the report's author
The report is published under the auspices of the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) of MPs and lords, but appears to be the sole work of Mr Shapps.
It says councils should consider the wider impact of increasing numbers of traffic control measures, which are slowing down journeys rather than speeding them up.
It says: ‘Removing many of these controls, particularly traffic lights, would go a long way to making road travel more efficient and better for the economy and saving individual motorists money.’
The BIG document cites a recent much-derided report by the Institute of Economic Affairs, which claimed that ‘a two-minute delay to every car trip equates to a loss of approximately £16bn a year’.
Mr Shapps recommended that councils examine the possibility of introducing controversial shared space schemes in their localities: ‘Conduct cost/benefit analysis before introducing new top down controls on the roads’; and consider trials of turning off traffic lights.
In March, Mr Shapps gave his support to a campaign, backed by the road safety charity Brake, for a new pedestrian crossing outside a school in his constituency.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC public affairs manager, was quoted in the report and suggested councils should switch some traffic lights off when roads are quieter.
Mr Lyes told Transport Network the report was a 'promising' one, which the RAC had looked at mainly from a safety point of view.
'There are a number of elements that we agreed with,’ he said, and added there is an argument for using more modern ways of managing more traffic lights according to flow, rather than simply through timings.
However, he said: ‘There are elements that would need to be looked at more closely. For example, when taking a decision to remove sets of traffic lights, authorities must make sure that there is no negative impact on the safety of road users.’
Mr Shapps’ office told Transport Network that 'the membership of BIG varies depending on the topic area we are working on'.
Ten MPs and two lords backed the report, which was sent in advance to parliamentarians that have a specific interest in transport policy.