Has your car been damaged by speed bumps? According to a new study, one in five drivers has suffered broken car components after hitting one of the traffic calming lumps in the road.
Measures to slow drivers down ‑ and particularly speed humps ‑ have been contentious among car owners since the bumps were launched in 1983. Now there are 29,000 of them in the UK and research by comparison website Confused.com claims 22 per cent of car owners have had their motors damaged going over humps. Of those, half suffered tyre trouble; a third said driving over humps had resulted in suspension problems. But what can you do about it? Read on to find out.
Are there any laws around speed humps?
There most certainly are. If you go to this website, the Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1999, you’ll find chapter and verse on the dimensions and permitted locations of speed bumps. To summarise, the minimum length of a hump should be 900mm. This is to stop them being too aggressively short and sharp.
Their height must be between 25mm and 100mm. Frequently humps stick up 75mm proud of the carriageway. Research shows this is sufficiently high to be a deterrent while also lessening the likelihood of a car grounding on the bump. And if they have a vertical edge on them (some of the rubber ones do) that should be no more than 6mm.
There are also regulations to do with where speed bumps can be located. For example, they can’t be positioned within 25m of bridges or tunnels. And they shouldn’t be within the limits of a pelican crossing or near a railway level crossing.
Can you claim against a speed hump?
Yes you can, but don’t expect to have an easy time of it. According to a Freedom of Information request made by Confused.com, between 2015 and 2017 councils paid out around £35,000 for damage caused by speed humps. With the average repair for road hump damage working out at £141, that’s only around 250 successful claims throughout the UK.
It’s a fraction of the millions paid out for unfair parking tickets. Of the appeals, London accounted for £15,717 of money paid out – around half.
How do you claim against a speed hump?
As with disputing an unfair parking ticket, you need to collect evidence showing that the speed hump is illegal. When the road is quiet, and ideally wearing a reflective jacket and with someone helping to warn of approaching traffic, take the speed hump’s dimensions. Back these up with photographs.
Take dimensions on both sides of the hump. There have been cases where heavy vehicles such as buses coming off speed humps have caused the road to sink, meaning the hump no longer complies with regulations. If you can prove that the hump isn’t within the official dimensions, you have a case. You should then approach the council that’s in charge of the road with the offending speed bump on.
What damage to speed humps do?
This depends on the size of the hump, how fast you hit it and how low your car is. Models with low-slung suspension such as sports cars can suffer damage to bodywork or delicate mechanical parts at the bottom of the vehicle. Hitting a hump at speed can cause similar damage to tyres as going down a pothole. Both cause a structural failure of the tyre that shows itself as a lump in the sidewall. And hitting an aggressively shaped hump at speed can damage suspension springs and dampers.
What do drivers think of speed humps?
Speed humps, bumps or sleeping policemen have remained about as popular with drivers as speed cameras. Brought in during 1983 as part of an initiative to slow traffic in residential areas, drivers rarely have a good word to say about them. In the Confused.com poll of 2000 drivers, two in five said they caused too much damage to cars. More than a fifth of drivers say they’re bad for the environment because they cause drivers to speed up and slow down. And 23 per cent think they should be removed to improve air quality.
A quarter of drivers (28 per cent) believe speed humps should be more clearly sign posted. But a fifth of drivers (19 per cent) admitted they didn’t slow down at all for the bumps. Although many drivers would like to see them removed, sadly that’s unlikely in the short term. It’ll cost too much.