Speed humps

Fleet drivers still getting the hump with ‘sleeping policemen’

Fleet drivers still getting the hump with sleeping policemen

Fleet drivers still getting the hump with sleeping policemen

One road feature guaranteed to be even more unpopular than roadworks is the speed hump (aka sleeping policeman), AA Populus research* reveals.

Even when re-engineered as speed ‘cushions’ or ‘tables’, more than 30 years of speed humps hasn’t lessened their loathing among 62% of a sample of 24,070 AA members quizzed in march 2016.

Road works wind up 59% of those questioned but the true strength of feeling is revealed among ‘extremely annoyed’ drivers, making up 38% of those against speed humps compared to 31% of those against roadworks.

The reason is perhaps best found in the number of times drivers bump into a hump each day – at least one a day for 50% of drivers, between six and 10 a day for 14% and more than 10 a day for 21%**.

Added risk

For fleet and business drivers, humps bring added risk to cargo, such as grocery deliveries, and passengers, as evidenced by the death of an 86-year-old passenger on a bus in 2014.

Dump the hump

The prevalence of speed humps remains despite them being introduced as far back as 1983 and the government’s ‘dump the hump’ initiative in June 2011, which allowed councils “to put in place 20 mph schemes on residential roads or use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools”. More cost effective than speed humps, they also reduce the potential of damage to vehicles and the impact on ambulances.

However, the cost of removing the older humps and the introduction of newer versions means that they remain daily obstacle for drivers.

Regional differences

Drivers in Yorkshire and Humberside are most vexed (69%) by road humps. However, with 27% of them having to negotiate up to five speed humps a day, they are better off than the 36% of Londoners and 29% of the AA members in Northern Ireland facing the same challenge.

Vehicles in the North East (17%), Wales (17%) and Northern Ireland (18%) are most likely to face an ordeal of 10 road humps or more a day.


Speed humps were introduced to the UK on 25 August 1983, under The Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1983, and revised in The Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1986. This revision was most notable for removing the specific requirement (section3b) to consult with bus operators before installing them on bus routes.

Under the 1983 regulations, speed humps were to be 100mm or 4ins high except for 75mm or 3ins on bus routes. When first introduced, local authorities tended to set speed humps at 75mm as 100mm was considered excessive and potentially damaging.

Road humps have always been contentious - drivers cursing them and local communities wanting more of them

David Richards, AA DriveTech

Always contentious

David Richards, head of marketing for AA DriveTech, says: “Road humps have always been contentious - drivers cursing them and local communities wanting more of them.  Humps designed and installed according to official guidance can help calm traffic in proven problem spots to make life better for communities.  However, many other traffic calming techniques now exist too, for example properly designed 20mph zones and shared space.

Traffic calming should be well designed

“As urban areas become ever denser, traffic and people must mix safely to maintain safety and access. Traffic calming should be well designed so as to gently coerce drivers and pedestrians into being careful and considerate - without launching vehicles into the air or sending cyclists and those on foot sprawling.” 

Driving advice

AA DriveTech’s trainers recommend the following for driving over speed humps in business vehicles:

  • Go slow on the approach, using brakes, and then let the vehicle’s momentum take the vehicle over the hump
  • With half bumps, keep the vehicle stable by straddling the bump equally
  • Smooth driving in humped areas is better than harsh acceleration and braking between them
  • Humps indicate the need for increased driver awareness as they tend to be placed in higher risk areas
  • Route planning to avoid road-humped residential streets can reduce their impact on cargo and passengers

(28 April 2016)

* Populus received 24,070 responses from AA members to its online poll between 8 and 15 March 2016.

**Populus received 29,568 responses from AA members to its online poll between 17 and 23 November 2015.