Publication - FOI/EIR release

Questions about traffic lights and speeding in Springholm A75: FOI release

Published: 12 Oct 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
12 Oct 2018
Questions about traffic lights and speeding in Springholm A75: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02472  
Date received: 13 September 2018  
Date responded: 11 October 2018
 
Information requested
 

Information in respect of the A75 Springholm speed management system and clarified question 3 on 8 October and question 6 and 7 on 9 October.

Response
 

I have listed your questions and our responses underneath for ease.


1)a) Details of any legal advice which Transport Scotland has received in relation to the applicability of the provisions of Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals at Springholm when the red signal phase is ignored by drivers. 


A.   An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above question.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.  We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.


1b) Details of any written communication between Transport Scotland and Police Scotland in relation to 1. the non-enforcement of red signal running by drivers at the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals in Springholm, 2. the timing of the presentation of red signals to oncoming drivers, 3. requesting, proposing or stating that Police Scotland amend their pattern of patrols during the speed control signal trial period and 4. proposing a set time period for the trial of the speed control signals and or a date or timescale for a stakeholder review of the success or otherwise of the new signals. 


A.  1(b)1. An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to all of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options, including with external stakeholders, before we reach a settled public view. Disclosing the content of any discussions with Police Scotland on the non-enforcement of red signal running by drivers at the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals in Springholm will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing. 


This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.  We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining our position on enforcement and from which they can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided in discussions with Police Scotland. Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of these issues which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.  

A.   1(b)2, 3 and 4 While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested as we do not hold this information and the under section 17(1) of FOISA applies. 

(c) Confirmation of the specific regulation of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 or of such other legislation under which the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals at Springholm have been lawfully installed to halt traffic.

A. There is no provision in the TSRGD 2016 (the current version) or other such legislation in this respect. 
As previously advised this is a pilot with the intention to monitor its effectiveness for a period before taking any next steps in setting the system within a legislative framework for enforcement should this be considered to be required.              
(d) Has Transport Scotland received any written communication suggesting or advising that the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals installed at Springholm are merely advisory and create no legal duty for drivers to halt in response to the red phases?

A.   We have  applied exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to all information identified.  This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before we reach a settled public view.  Disclosing the content of these discussions on the above aspects will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing.

2. Details of any written complaint received by Transport Scotland from an elected representative at parliamentary or local council level in relation to the unwarranted presentation of red signals to drivers by the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals on the Springholm A75 and/or asserting the existence of a risk to drivers, or risk/delay to emergency service vehicles in so presenting such red signals from 11 December 2017 and the date of this request.

A.  Please refer to Annex A of this request below. An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names / contact details of individuals and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.  This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

3. Details of any written complaint received by Transport Scotland from Police Scotland in relation to either the unwarranted presentation of red signals to drivers by the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals on the Springholm A75 and/or asserting the existence of a risk to drivers in so presenting such red signals from 11 December 2017 and the date of this request.

A.   While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested.  Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above question.

4. Brief, non identifying, details of any road traffic collision known by Transport Scotland to have occurred on the approaches to the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals or alleged to have been caused by the presence of these speed control traffic signals.

A. There have been no personal injury accidents over the period 11/12/2017 (date the lights were installed) until 28/07/2018 (latest date available). This was measured approximately 150 meters on both approaches to both sets of signals.  Please note that the information provided is based on the current figures available. The following are potential reasons for an accident not appearing on our system:

  • Transport Scotland only holds accident information which is provided to us by Police Scotland.
  • Transport Scotland does not hold information relating to damage only accidents (i.e. not involving an injury).
  • Transport Scotland only holds accident information for the trunk road network.
  • The accident information Transport Scotland holds is subject to change.  E.g. we receive late returns from Police Scotland, who are responsible for recording details of injury accidents.
  • Annual Scottish accident figures are published by Transport Scotland on a yearly basis and can be found by entering Reported Road Casualties Scotland into your search engine.

5. Details of any written complaint received by Transport Scotland directly or via Police Scotland in relation to alleged non compliance by drivers with red signals at the Springholm A75 pedestrian crossing since 11 December 2017 and the date of this request.

A.  While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above question. This excludes any correspondence from either of you as you will already have copies of this.

6. Data from each of the four traffic count/classifiers (ATCs) along the village A75 between 11 December 2017 and the latest available date for which data is available giving vehicle numbers and breakdown by vehicle length and speed in 5 mph speed bins including average speeds and 85th percentiles. Please present the data in a format which will permit the dates, times, locations and directions it was gathered at to be determined and specify the commencing and ending time of each data set.

A.   Please refer to Annex B of this request which provides data in the format clarified in your letter of 9 October. As requested please find below a key to the site location/directional information presented in the data.

SH1 – West Gateway. 50m east of Barr of Spottes Road. Adjacent to eastbound VAS
SH2 – Centre of Village at Bus Stop
SH3 – Beech House
SH4 -  East Gateway.  Adjacent to Westbound VAS for signals.
Channel 1 - Eastbound  
Channel 2 - Westbound

Please also note that the reports for average and 85th percentile speeds details four channels, of which channel 3 and 4 are blank.  This system is capable of monitoring 4 lanes however as the A75 at Springholm is a two lane carriageway, only channel 1 and channel 2 are populated.

7. Data from fixed equipment along the village A75 between 11 December 2017 and the latest available date from which Transport Scotland and/or its contractors determine both the number of red stop signal triggers and the respective numbers of drivers in compliance/non-compliance with stop signals presented to the traffic flow by the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals. Please present the data in a format which will permit the dates, times, locations and directions it was gathered at to be determined and specify the commencing and ending time of each data set.

A.   Please refer to Annex C which provides the data in the format as clarified in your letter of 9 October.
For clarity:

Direction 1 – Eastbound
Direction 2 – Westbound

8.  Any data Transport Scotland or their agents may hold in relation to the speeds of vehicles at their point of passage through the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals. If this data is not gathered is it technically possible to do so and, if so, at what estimated added cost? (We ask because a large number of vehicles are observed each day approaching and passing through the signals at a speed faster than red signals are timed to appear. Red then presents to an empty channel or to vehicles following, which may or may not be speed limit complaint and may or not stop.).

A.  We do not hold any data from when vehicles pass over the STOP line of traffic signals. The essence of the scheme is to understand the change in speed of vehicles achieved since the introduction of the works. From experience, it can be taken that a vehicle that has triggered the signals is the one likely to be attempting to speed through to ‘beat’ a red signal, or travel through a signal. From our evidence on activations and relevant red light statistics we can understand the level of speed and signal compliance to make a judgement on the effectiveness of the scheme. To gain such data would require additional survey work to be carried out at an estimated cost of £1000 per week for the surveys plus costs of staff in our operating company to collate.

9. Details of the time delay operating between initial detection of a speeding vehicle and the presentation of a red stop signal. If this delay varies according to location, time of day and channel please give the respective periods and reasons for the variation.

Please see below the time delays between activation and red signals.

A.   Time delays for signals

Site 1: Eastbound entry to Springholm – Into Springholm from Castle Douglas
4 second delay
Site 2: Westbound exit from Springholm – Leaving Springholm to Castle Douglas
2 second delay
Site 3: Eastbound exit from Springholm – Leaving Springholm to Dumfries
2 second delay
Site 4: Westbound into Springholm – Into Springholm from Dumfries
2 second delay
Delay times are set bespoke for each location, based upon our engineering judgement from on-site information, which is linked to the distance of the detection point from the signals. The delay is included to allow time for a non-offending vehicle that has passed the detection to pass the lights before the face a red signal.

10. The distance in metres between the effective point of detection of a speeding vehicle and the line before which a red signal triggering driver is required to stop. If these vary between the four approach channels please identify. In respect of the western signals it is noted that works to replace the radar detection with embedded inductive loops has been scheduled. Please supply the measurement requested in relation to the design position of the proposed loops not yet installed.

A.   Please refer to Annex D of this request which is the “as built” plan for Northbound lights. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we do not have some of the information you have requested as the Southbound plans have not yet been finalised.

11. Confirmation of the amber/red light trigger speed threshold(s).

A.  While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no recorded information is held in respect of the above question.

12. Do Transport Scotland or its agents hold any official video footage in relation to the operation of the Springholm A75 reverse speed discrimination traffic signals?

A.   Yes.

Annex A

From: Carson F (Finlay), MSPSent: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 4:04:45 PM

To: Yousaf H (Humza), MSP

Cc: [redacted]

Subject: Traffic Concerns in Sprinholm

Dear Humsa,

In light of recent comments made to me and via social media, I am growing increasingly concerned that the new 'attitude lights' are in some situations making matters more dangerous and having little effect on persistence speeding drivers, who realise there is no penalty for running a red light.

Please find a recent post to Facebook with reflects the views of many constituents: "......I too live in the village and I understand why the lights are there and to be fair I think they are a waste of money. They do mostly slow traffic down at both sides of the village  but nothing has changed  in the middle of the village  in fact  it's worse. Mote vehicles are overtaking more drivers are speeding and drivers are also ignoring the crossing lights. My kids walk our dog every day and cross at the lights and have almost been hit by cars several times even though the red light is showing. That didn't happen before. And I have noticed there used to be regular traffic police in the village there have been none in several months.....

Given these safety concerns, can you please give me your assurance that you will further investigate vehicle speeds throughout the village and that you will give serious consideration to removing these widely condemned lights and installing an average speed camera system which will identify lawbreakers and fine them, causing no disruption to careful and considerate drivers.

Kind regards

Finlay Carson MSP

Annex B – Question 6. Attached separately.

Annex C – Question 7. Attached separately.

Annex D – Question 10. Attached separately.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

foi-18-02472 Annex B Q6 part 1

468 page PDF
1.8 MB

foi-18-02472 Annex B Q6 part 2

546 page PDF
1.7 MB

foi-18-02472 Annex B Q6 part 3

234 page PDF
602.6 kB

foi-18-02472 Annex C and D

33 page PDF
1.8 MB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
EH1 3DG