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20 MPH Speed Limit: Driving Home The Safety Message

11th April 2014

Introducing a speed limit of 20mph on residential streets, especially near schools and town centres has been given “overwhelming support” by just over eight in ten (81 per cent) of people responding to the latest survey by Brake, the road safety charity. Nearly 80 per cent also believe a reduced speed limit would “encourage more people to walk or cycle if roads and routes in their town or village were made safer.”


In their current GO20 campaign, Brake also calls on parliament to support the introduction of 20mph as the “default urban speed limit” while continuing to encourage more local authorities to join the growing number of councils who have already adopted 20mph limits in their own areas.


Constant concern for parents


Reducing speed and preventing needless accidents in Britain’s residential streets is a constant concern for parents with small children and an abiding issue for local authorities. In a twenty year experiment up to 2006, the maintenance of a 20mph speed limit by speed cameras and speed bumps was shown to have reduced road casualties by more than 40 per cent.


There can be no doubt that speed control measures to reduce accidents and injuries, and imposing a residential limit of 20mph across entire city areas must always be a key factor to improving road safety culture. But we must always be aware that accidents can still occur at lower speeds, and collision rates may even increase in specific circumstances.


National statistics published in 2012 showed the accident rate in 20mph areas actually rose by a quarter in the preceding 12 months while the rate in other urban areas fell by one per cent. In 2013, a Road Traffic Accident Report, commissioned by Your Legal Friend found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of accidents occur when a vehicle is travelling at 10mph or less.


Philip Waters, Personal Injury Solicitor at Your Legal Friend cautioned that, “Driving slowly doesn’t always mean you’re driving safely”, and calls upon the government to also focus their attention on road junctions or roundabouts where “most accidents take place.”


Many other factors cause road accidents


With the focus on encouraging more active, healthy lifestyles, road safety culture is increasingly, coming under intense scrutiny. If more walking and cycling is to be encouraged, then making people feel safer, by removing the fear of a road accident caused by using residential streets as “rat runs” must be a priority.


But speeding is not the only cause of road traffic accidents that government and local authorities need to urgently address.


Philip Waters calls on the government to commit to improving many other factors that concern the ordinary commuter, from the increased number of potholes caused by recent flooding, poorly lit roads or dangerous T junctions. “Cutting speed might be the fastest route to making our roaders safer, but in the long term, more has to be done.”