Transport chiefs in South Tyneside say they are awaiting more details from the Government over the possible scrapping of speed humps.
As part of the Government’s plans to improve air quality across the UK, Environment Secretary Michael Gove told councils to consider considering removal of road humps.
The suggestion has been branded “absolute nonsense” by safety groups, which say such a move would put vulnerable groups such as children and elderly pedestrians at greater risk of injury or death.
Council chiefs say that humps are implemented as per current guidelines in streets where there are accidents relating to excessive speeds.
Studies suggest that speed bumps cause an increase in pollution such as nitrous oxide and CO2 emissions as drivers repeatedly brake for and then accelerate away from them.
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside said: “We await further details from Government so we can assess the impact of the proposals.
“However, it must be highlighted that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to road safety. Traffic calming measures in one place might not be suitable in another.
“Overall, road safety schemes are only implemented where they are needed, often at the request of residents.”
Rachel Maycock, head of public affairs for Living Streets, said the idea was “irresponsible”.
She said: “Where they are talking about taking away these speed bumps are not the streets that are causing the pollution hot spots.
“It’s absolute nonsense if we’re trying to prevent all of those deaths (from pollution) that we’ll be causing another problem with road safety.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has also criticised the idea of removing traffic calming measures.
Its head of road safety, Kevin Clinton, said: “Removing speed humps, which are proven to be an effective way of reducing road casualties, would increase risk to all road users, but especially to pedestrians, pedal cyclists and children, and are one of the key reasons why death and injury on our roads have fallen so substantially over the last few decades.”
However drivers’ groups have said removing speed humps could offer benefits.
Roger Lawson of the Alliance of British Drivers said: “There’s very definite evidence on the additional pollution you get with speed humps.
“Evidence from Imperial College shows you get 50 per cent more particulates and 64 per more cent nitrous oxide so the damaging effect regarding air pollution have been clear for many years.”