RAC Cars News


Accidents Increase in 20mph Zones

By raccars Published

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Data released by the Department for Transport reveals that road accidents resulting in serious casualties are increasing in 20mph zones. Figures for 2013 show a 29% rise and motoring organisations believe that road signs indicating a 20mph limit are not sufficient.

Serious casualties rose by over a quarter and minor casualties recorded a 19% increase in 2013. In order to tackle the problem, the Institute of Advanced Motorists is pushing for drivers to be made more aware of the importance of the 20mph speed limit, claiming that more needs to be done to change the appearance of the zones than just installing road signs.

The IAM has recommended a similar strategy to that used in some other European countries, where different road surfaces representing the different speed zones have helped to improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists.

At the same time, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed that motorway speed limits will not be reduced to 60mph. The proposal to lower speed limits on some stretches of new, 'smart' motorways was put forward as part of a series of measures to reduce pollution on UK roads. However the Highways Agency, which put forward the suggestion, has been told to find new ideas for improving the quality of air in the proposed zones.

The scheme involved lowering the speed limit from 7am-7pm from Monday-Sunday on certain stretches of the M1 in Derbyshire (junctions 28-31) and South Yorkshire (junctions 32-35a) and on the M3 (junctions 2-4a) in Surrey. The Highways Agency has been given 18 months to find alternative pollution lowering measures. While the Department for Transport has agreed to consider proposals for a lower speed limit if 'absolutely necessary', the DfT has insisted upon maintaining a 70mph speed limit at non-peak travelling times, including outside normal commuting hours and at weekends.

The three new sections of motorway involved in the plan are part of a £24 billion road infrastructure investment. By 2021 these motorway zones will feature variable speed limits and the use of the hard shoulder as an extra lane at certain times in order to reduce congestion during rush hours.

The plan is supposed to add another 33% capacity to the existing traffic load and reduce journey times by 10% on the affected areas of the M1 and 15% on the M3, where the average speed goes down to 45mph at peak times. The 'smart' traffic schemes should be operative by autumn 2015 on the M1 and 2016 on the M3.

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