Could speed bumps be a thing of the past?

  • Video report by ITV News Science Correspondent Alok Jha

Councils should promote smoother driving and consider removing speed bumps to cut down on harmful pollution, a health watchdog said.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said some speed bumps cause higher emissions as they force drivers to decelerate and accelerate.

The new Nice guidance also recommended reducing speed limits and carrying out average speed checks on England's motorways.

Meanwhile, "no-idling" zones should be installed around the nation's schools to prevent parents leaving their cars running during school drop-off, Nice said.

The draft guidance, which is currently out for consultation, also suggests:

  • Newly built schools, nurseries and retirement homes should be placed away from busy roads.

  • Councils should consider congestion charge zones and car-free days.

  • Cycle routes should avoid heavily polluted roads or foliage should be used to screen cyclists from vehicles.

  • Local authorities should look into setting a standard for the types of cars used for taxis.

Traffic contributes to about a third of air pollution. Credit: PA

Traffic is estimated to contribute to about a third of air pollution in urban sites, and provisional figures show road usage is at record levels.

Air pollution is a contributory factor in around 25,000 deaths a year in England, almost 5% of all deaths.

Figures released earlier this year showed that average speed cameras were monitoring drivers on more than 250 miles of Britain's roads.

The first section of road to become permanently managed by average speed cameras was on the A6514 ring road in Nottingham in 2000.

Air pollution seen over London. Credit: PA

Professor Mark Baker, director for the Centre of Guidelines at Nice, said: "If the traffic is such that you are stopping and starting, decelerating and accelerating, then that increases emissions, pollution and fuel consumption."

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: "It is the case that speed limits that adjust to the weight of traffic can improve flow.

"There is a role that individual drivers can play here by thinking about their driving style to reduce emissions - and doing so can actually save them money."

A government spokesman said: "This draft guidance doesn't represent government policy, but we are firmly committed to improving the UK's air quality and cutting harmful emissions."