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Gateshead Speed Management Plan (SMP)

Executive summary

In this section

Management of traffic speed is important. We need a transport network that supports improved road safety, and helps to manage the impact of traffic on local communities. 

Road Safety is an important issue. We, along with Northumbria Police, receive many requests and concerns in relation to speed management each year. Speeding traffic also affects people in many other ways beyond immediate safety concerns. In particular it can discourage active and independent travel, and create community severance. 

Over the last ten years, there has been a gradual downward trend in highway casualties in Gateshead. Casualties have reduced from 872 in 2008 to 511 in 2018, a fall of 41%. It is important to continue this trend by continuing to carry out works aimed at tackling speed related accidents. 

The updated Speed Management Plan sets out how we will develop and put in place our approach to speed management. This will help to minimise the number and severity of speed related accidents and reduce other problems associated with excess traffic speed. 

Why we review the SMP

Our previous Speed Management Plan (SMP) was produced in 2007. It was informed by the Department for Transport (DfT) circular 1/06 'Setting Local Speed Limits'. In January 2013 the DfT revised its guidance and DfT circular 01/13 'Setting Local Speed Limits' (opens new window) was published. Whilst the principles contained within DfT circular 01/13 have informed our speed management considerations since 2013, the SMP has not been formally reviewed and updated during this time. 

It is also important to update the plan to: 

  • reflect changes in other local and national policy and guidance 
  • reflect the speed management works that have taken place or are planned 
  • review and reflect on more up to date trends and statistics 
  • reflect changes in technology. 

Vision and policy

The Speed Management vision is: Safe and efficient speeds for all. 

The Plan also sets out our Speed Management Policy as: 

Speed limits shall be introduced in a manner consistent with current government guidance and exceptions to usual practice will be recorded and justified as a departure from standard. 

The introduction of speed management measures whether based on speed limits, engineering, education or enforcement will only be considered where it can be demonstrated that they : 

  • meet and contribute to the Speed Management Plan vision and core aims; 
  • meet and contribute to the North East Transport Plan Goals (opens new window) - specifically those relating to road and community safety and climate change; 
  • meet and contribute to Gateshead Council's Thrive Agenda
  • take into account relevant regulations, best practice, all highway users and local experience; 
  • are consistent with our Network Management Plan. 

The core aims of the SMP are to: 

  • reduce the incidence of inappropriate speed on Gateshead's roads
  • achieve significant reductions in the number of personal injury accidents occurring on the highway as a result of excessive or inappropriate speed 
  • reduce the severity of road accidents that do occur 
  • increase levels of speed limit compliance
  • reduce community severance
  • contribute towards creating more attractive environments in which to live and work
  • encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport
  • adapt to changes in technology

The Speed Management Plan will be based around the Safe Systems Approach (SSA) (opens new window) to road safety, which is centred on the principle that life and health should not be compromised by our need to travel. 


Speed management schemes will be funded mainly by Local Transport Plan Integrated Transport (opens new window) funding, mainly coming under the Safe and Sustainable Communities key area. 

This can sometimes be supplemented by specific bids to central government and its departments and through developer contributions linked to planning approvals. However, such opportunities are rarely linked specifically to speed management or road safety. 

Identification and prioritisation of works

The method for prioritising schemes is set out in full detail in Table 1

Works will be incorporated into our transport capital programme using the annual traffic management budget (for schemes less than £10k), as a standalone scheme (for schemes above £10k), or as part of a wider scheme. 

Urgent works which cannot be accommodated within the budget will be carried out as an agreed overspend or through postponing less urgent works. 

If more than one location falls within the same category, the overall number of accidents, accident rate and accident severity will be considered. 

For rural roads, as recommended by GOV.UK - setting local speed limits (opens new window), we will also draw upon the methods set out in the CIS - Accident analysis on rural roads - a technical guide (opens new window) 

Speed limits

Speed limits should be evidence-led and self-explaining and seek to reinforce people's assessment of what is a safe speed to travel. They should encourage self-compliance and be regarded as the maximum rather than the target speed. 

We will assess speed limits and the need for intervention based on the 85th percentile (the speed below which 85% of motorists are travelling) and average speeds. 

The Plan proposes that speed limits will not be routinely reviewed other than in the case of 20mph limits for which there is an ongoing programme of works, or in the following circumstances: 

  • As part of a wider highway scheme; 
  • Following a fatal accident (coroner recommendation or engineer assessment); 
  • Following a series of serious or slight accidents linked to speed; 
  • As a result of MP, Council Member or Emergency Service request 
  • Following receipt of a petition (in accordance with our petition scheme); 
  • At the request of a neighbouring Local Authority; 
  • When linked to new development. 

New developments

New residential developments will typically be required to adhere to the street hierarchy set out in our Transport Design Guide (once approved), with the road type being linked to function. The hierarchy allows inclusion of factors such as speed limit, road geometry and level of user segregation in managing speed and road safety.  

Speed management measures

The Plan sets out several types of Speed Management measures available to us. These can be summarised as the following. 

Speed limits 

  • Zonal speed limits 
  • Ultra low speed limits (below 20mph) 

Engineering measures (general) 

  • Vehicle Activated signs/Driver feedback signs 
  • Road markings 
  • Passive safety 

Engineering measures (urban/village) 

  • Vertical traffic calming 
  • Horizontal traffic calming and road narrowing 
  • Street closures 
  • On-street parking 
  • Traffic signals 

Engineering measures (rural) 

  • Village gateways 
  • Bends (warning and safety measures) 
  • Quiet lanes 


  • Safety Camera Strategy/ Northumbria Safer roads Initiative (NSRI) 
  • Speed Monitoring Network/Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU) 
  • Publicity 

Emerging technology 

  • Vehicle speed detection/limiters if introduced by UK government 
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles (when in broader use)