RAC Cars News


20mph speed limits to be enforced

By raccars Published

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Transport for London (TfL) has decided to introduce new 20mph speed limits to busy routes in the capital, after Islington borough was used as an experiment on the effectiveness of the 20mph limit. Islington has been subject to a blanket 20mph limit since 2013, in an attempt to reduce road deaths and injuries in the borough, and police have been strictly enforcing this since October last year.

However, critics of the application of 20mph limits have argued that they don't work to make roads safer and that most drivers ignore them. Islington council has collected data which suggests that average speeds in the borough have reduced -but by only 1mph, from 28mph before the 20mph limit was imposed, to 27mph afterwards.

Similar schemes have been introduced in Brighton and Bristol, which have also seen average speeds drop by 1mph since 20mph limits were implemented, to 23mph in Bristol and to 19mph in Brighton.

The London borough of Merton recently commissioned a report suggesting that comprehensive traffic calming zones can be more effective at encouraging drivers to stick to 20mph than the cheaper option chosen by most councils, involving no more than putting up 20mph signs. However, conflicting evidence was put forward in the Journal of Public Health last year, claiming that the results of 10 studies showed that both measures could be effective for reducing car speeds and the number of resulting accidents.

Injuries experts are convinced that reducing speed limits to 20mph in urban zones will reduce the number of serious road injuries and deaths. Certainly, the evidence collected from Brighton's 20mph zone experiment supports this point - the local authority has reported the casualty rate on its calmed roads has gone down by 12% and not a single death has been reported on the 20mph restricted roads. Other European countries are imposing similar schemes in urban areas, with 30kph speed limits in place in Milan and Paris and set to be applied in all urban areas in Spain.

The DfT is now waiting for the results of a £715,000, three year study on the effectiveness of imposing 20mph speed limits, which will provide data across a number of areas and some all new research. The report's conclusion is expected in 2017.

Bristol has expanded an initial trial scheme city wide, in a £2.3 million project using signs only. However, some new problems have been created in the form of aggression and dangerous overtaking from drivers frustrated by the new lower speed limit.

You can find out more information on twenty miles per hour zones here.

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