Speed humps are causing ‘too much’ damage to cars, new research reveals

More than a fifth (22%) of motorists who have driven over a speed hump said it damaged their car – costing £141 to repair, on average

Councils have forked out more than £35k to drivers for damage caused by speed humps(1) between 2015 and 2017 – but not all drivers are entitled to compensation.
More than 29,000 speed humps are installed across the UK(1) – but one in six (17%) drivers are confused about why they are used over other speed calming measures.
More than a quarter (28%) of UK drivers think markings on speed humps should be made clearer, as a further one in four (27%) think they are not an effective method of reducing speed.
Councils across London have paid out more than £16,000 alone to drivers for speed hump damage(1).

Speed humps are installed on roads across the UK in a bid to improve safety. However new research suggests that they are giving motorists a bumpy ride and are causing ‘too much’ damage to cars. 

New research by Confused.com revealed that more than two fifths (41%) of UK motorists think speed humps, bumps or cushions cause too much damage to cars. In fact, more than one in five (22%) drivers who have driven over a bump in the road said it damaged their car, costing them an eye-watering £141 to repair, on average. Most (48%) received a defect on their tyres, while a third (33%) said it broke their suspension.

However, some motorists have been able to claim this money back from councils. New data obtained by Confused.com through Freedom of Information requests to the UK’s local councils revealed that a whopping £35,080 was paid out to drivers between 2015 and 2017 for damage caused by speed humps(1). This is despite the fact they are not technically classed as a ‘road defect’, making it difficult for drivers to make a claim.

According to the data, more than 29,000 speed humps, bumps and cushions are installed on roads(1) with lower speed limits to encourage drivers to slow down, however some drivers are unsure why this is. Further research by the driver savings site found that one in six (17%) UK drivers are confused about why councils use them over other speed calming measures. In fact, motorists find permanent and police enforced speed cameras, and chicanes to be more effective, with one in four (27%) saying they think speed humps are ineffective in reducing speeds. 

Not only this, but many drivers also find speed humps hard to spot on the road, with more than a quarter (28%) wanting to see road markings and signage made clearer. And this means some motorists may come across an unexpected bump in the road, and haven’t been able to slow down in time, which could potentially cause damage to their car.

And there may be some confusion about when drivers can claim for damage caused by a speed hump. Highways Regulations state drivers may claim for damage to their vehicle if the road surface is defected(2). However, as speed humps are placed by the local authority as a speed calming measure, they are not technically classed as a road defect. But there are limitations on how big a speed hump should be, and this might make it easier for motorists to claim compensation for damage. According to the Highways Regulations 1999, road humps should not exceed 100mm in height(3). Anything higher than this is more likely to cause damage to a car, and puts motorists in a position to claim for damage caused. However, the government recommends they are no higher than 75mm(4), and the data obtained from local councils suggests that the average maximum height of speed humps installed across the country is 72mm. But, worryingly, there are few motorists who are aware of the maximum height speed humps should be. According to the research, one in six (17%) believe it to be 75mm, while almost one in five (18%) think it is 100mm. 

Looking at the data in more detail, it’s clear some regions are more of a bumpy ride for drivers than others. In particular, speed humps installed in London have caused £15,717 worth of damage to cars between 2015 and 2017(1). In total, 8,516 speed humps, bumps or cushions are installed across the capital, which has arguably some of the lowest-speed and congested roads in the country.

Motorists should approach all speed humps, bumps, cushions or tables carefully and reduce their speed to avoid catching their car and causing any costly damage to their car. Although, worryingly, almost a third (29%) of drivers admit they speed up in between humps, almost one in five (19%) don’t always slow down when driving over them. Some (12%) even go as far as saying they don’t encourage them to drive slower. And it is this that is most likely to be causing damage to cars.

However, it’s no wonder speed humps are unpopular among motorists, with almost a quarter (23%) admitting they avoid driving down roads with speed humps. And there are many reasons why drivers don’t like them. Almost a third (31%) think they make roads look ugly, while more than one in four (27%) think they cause disruptions to traffic flow, which can make roads quite chaotic. But over one in five (22%) drivers are also against the use of speed humps because they are bad for air pollution. 

Recent research has suggested that speed humps damage roadside air quality, due to the constant slowing down and speeding up required by cars, which increases emissions. And some drivers feel quite strongly about this, with almost one in four (23%) calling for speed humps to be removed in order to improve air quality. Some (33%) also think that it is unclear exactly what impact speed cushions have on air quality and think that more research needs to be done to clear up any confusion.

However, there are also some drivers who see the benefit of speed humps. Almost half of UK drivers think they protect pedestrians from speeding cars, while just over two fifths (44%) say they improve road safety. Although, unsurprisingly, the majority of drivers also think that more needs to be done to avoid damage to cars, with almost three in five (58%) wanting to see them made lower. But perhaps with clearer markings, motorists would be more cautious when driving over speed humps, which will ultimately avoid any damage.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Claiming for damage to your car caused by speed humps is confusing for drivers. Unlike potholes, which are defects in the road, speed humps have been installed for safety. However, with 22% of drivers having experienced damage to their car as a result of speed humps, perhaps markings on speed humps could be made clearer, to avoid any bumpy surprises. 
“While speed humps are clearly not very popular among motorists, they are there for a reason. And we urge drivers to approach them carefully and slowly, in order to minimise any damage. Motorists who think they have damaged their car while driving at a reasonable speed should check the height, if and when it is safe to do so, to see if they would be eligible for compensation.

“But forking out hundreds of pounds to fix tyres or suspension is a cost we’re sure drivers could do without, when the cost of motoring is becoming less affordable as it is. Drivers should cut through the clutter of motoring chaos by shopping around and comparing the best deals using a site like Confused.com, or read our go-to guide on how to reduce car insurance costs.”

Notes to editors
Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 16th August and 20th August 2018.

1. Confused.com issued a Freedom of Information request to local authorities across the UK, requesting:
a) The combined total number of speed humps, bumps, cushions and tables currently installed in your local authority area
b) The height of the largest speed hump, bump, cushion or table installed in your local authority area
c) The height of the smallest speed hump, bump, cushion or table installed in your local authority area
d) The amount of compensation paid out by your local authority to drivers for damage to cars caused by speed humps, bumps, cushions or tables, broken down by year for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date.
e) Does your local authority have any plans to remove any speed humps, bumps, cushions or tables in your area?
2. https://www.gov.uk/claim-for-damage-to-your-vehicle
3. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/1025/regulation/4/made
4. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1331280/Local-council-forced-spend-21-000-lowering-high-speed-bumps-inch.html

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Launched in 2002, Confused.com was the UK's first digital marketplace for car insurance and is one of the leading brands in the sector, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the years to include home insurance, van insurance, motorcycle insurance, and car finance comparison, as well as a number of tools designed to save consumers money.

Confused.com is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more. Confused.com’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators.

Confused.com is the largest company in the Penguin Portals Group, which is the largest group of its kind with similar operations stationed across the world. Penguin Portals Group is owned by the Admiral Group plc. Admiral listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. Confused.com is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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