Road Safety News

Make 20mph limits the norm: Brake

Tuesday 21st August 2012

Brake is the latest organisation to call on the Government and local authorities to work towards 20mph limits being the norm in built-up areas. The charity says this will “help deliver a post-2012 legacy of active, healthy communities”.

Last week, in the national press, it was widely reported that 20mph limits are ‘not working’ on the basis that casualties on roads with 20mph limits increased during 2010-11. But a number of organisations, including Brake, have pointed out that the increase is not surprising given that there are now many more roads with 20mph limits.

Brake cites a number of academic studies which is says demonstrate the safety benefits of lower speed limits in communities, especially for vulnerable road users. The charity also highlights surveys in which people say they would walk or cycle more if it was safer, and support the introduction of 20mph limits in residential areas.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: “20mph is a more appropriate limit for built up areas because it gives drivers far more chance to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone. At 30mph, your stopping distance is nearly six car lengths, compared to three at 20mph.

“There is a huge amount of enthusiasm at the moment for enabling people to live healthy, active lifestyles as a post-2012 legacy. We know that fast traffic is a major barrier to this: many children, families and adults are prevented from walking, cycling and getting out and about because of the dangers.

“20mph limits are evidenced to make walking and cycling safer, deliver a host of benefits to communities, and they are widely supported. That’s why more and more local authorities are implementing them on a widespread basis, and that’s why we want the Government to enable and support more authorities to make this positive step.”

For more information contact David Hebblethwaite on 01484 559909.


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In response to REMEMAN, I must point out that this is a Newsfeed with a facility for anyone to add comments and contribute to discussion. This is regardless of their point of view - provided posts comply with our basic rules about not being offensive, word count etc.

We publish all sorts of opinions to further debate and add to people’s knowledge and understanding of road safety issues. Sometimes they reflect the majority view, often they do not. We absolutely do not favour certain organisations or opinions over others. In fact, if you go back through the discussions or talk to road safety professionals you will find that BRAKE provoke various opinions - from strongly supportive to the other end of the spectrum, so your assumption that the views of BRAKE are automatically representative of and supported by the road safety profession is far from being the case.

We stand by our policy and practice of facilitating debate and welcoming a variety of opinions to the discussion.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

Yes Nick, but their's are more compatable. What I will never accept is that those who operate such control over drivers classify them all on the same level of driving even though they may be some of the safest on the roads. "Sort the wheat from the chaff" and the roads will become safer for everyone.
REMEMAN Derbyshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

REMEMAN - if Brake post a comment they are subject to the same house rules as any other poster, including the 150 word limit.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

But Brake can say what they like Nick? Let's have the whole story on subjects. I would like to know just what driving experience anyone at Brake actually have and would enjoy a day observing just how they drive. Cameras and unacceptable speed limits subject ALL drivers as "Incompetant" and a possible RTC but if one checks out the relevent area's figures they will find that speed is NOT the most common cause of RTCs but is a good excuse to operate unacceptable cameras and so generate finances for those involved. My father served 34 years and one of his his quotes was: "One has to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff", which cannot and never will be achieved by cameras which are at best a very good alienation tool.
REMEMAN Derbyshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

Let us leave the urban/residential speed limit practice as it is, that is a default of 30mph with slower 20mph in specific places and 40mph in other mainly local distributor roads. Neither councils nor government have the money to make widespread engineering changes to support 20mph speed limits/zones and the police are not ‘around’ enough to pose much of a threat to drivers of being caught breaking a 20mph speed limit (even if they had the necessary Home Office type-approved equipment to do so). I wouldn’t consider Brake’s comments to be impartial about the amount of enthusiasm and support for 20mph limits but I’m sure there is vastly more in support of keeping things as they are.
Pat, Wales

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

REMEMAN - we encourage open debate on this website, as indicated by the range of views expressed in relation to this article. We only moderate comments which either break our house rules or significantly exceed the word count of 150 words, which was the case with your recent post.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

On the practical matter of what gets a 20 mph speed limit and what doesn’t, in Lancashire now there are many consultations taking place, some involving the electorate but many just talking to RSOs and other officers of the council. Where no electorate were involved complaints are now coming in and council officials are considering the changes back to 30 mph.

The pre requirement and recommendation for a 20 mph limit as reported in literature available to RSOs is that it should be implemented in residential areas and where there are schools. Lancashire are looking at various schemes throughout the county to conclude in 2013.

However, whilst targeting residential areas and reducing very local domestic traffic to 20 mph it looks like they are going to allow communication roads between villages and townships and even those roads that run through them to remain at their present speed limits and not be part of the 20 mph scheme.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

I don't like comments being edited that do not conform to those who control the site, also some voting is not being recorded (added). Let's have plain and factual comments which merit being posted and not "part choice" by those who should know better. Let's have ALL the information/comments in print otherwise whats the point of commenting/posting.
REMEMAN Derbyshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

Speed is not the problem, it’s the driver. No driver, no RTCs. Speed is just one factor of any RTC this being the severity, it didn't cause it, the driver did and while the camera system is retained and the roads not being policed as they should be then we will never see any benefit on the roads. I observe many acts of dangerous and unacceptable driving which a traffic vehicle/officer would have apprehended the driver but while cameras are so cost effective at finance generation they will not be disbanded. I was informed by a high ranking officer cameras couldn't be operated if it wasn't for SACs which cover the costs and purchase of even more cameras, but having listened to those who have been on these courses they are informed by the instructors that the money goes into road schemes and other projects.
REMEMAN Derbyshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

Thank God for sensible people such as Honor Byford, REMEMAN and John Lambert. I have long despaired at organizations such as BRAKE which come up with ideas which might look good in newspapers and be superficially appealing to the masses but which, when you look at them logically, do not make any real sense and can do more damage to road safety than improve it.
Nigel Albright

Agree (12) | Disagree (5)

I was interested to read of the speedometer reflected in the windscreen, and feel sure that it would be an effective safety measure, just as "head-up-displays" are in aircraft cockpits.

I would also add that the digital LED display on my speed camera detector, at the base of the windscreen, provides much the same benefit of speed indication within normal line of vision - and also, because is uses GPS, a more accurate reading too.

Satnav speed readings are also good, though in my experience the digits could usefully be larger.

I agree with Honor Byford, and it is my duty of care that leads me to point out errors of fact and analysis where I see them and constantly to emphasise that policies and spending need to be based on the most accurate data available, competently analysed and not the flawed, incomplete and cherry-picked data, incompetent analysis, naive assumptions and dismissive response to objections that is so often par for the course.
Idris Francis

Agree (6) | Disagree (8)

We have the same arguments and discussions every month now. Parties jumping on the political bandwagon and supporting the government with statistics that could be incomplete or at best erroneous.

Why should the government push something that is or will be very, very unpopular with the electorate when they can gain the support of charities and/or other official and unofficial bodies to wear down any public resistance?

The arguments will flow back and forth until the deed is done in 2014 when all towns and villages will have a 20 mph limit forced upon them. This matter has been on the agenda for last two years, just look back and see. It's merely rhetorical.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

Anyone interested in this? Extract from Amazon Kindle Book, Grey Gold and Green ……. the car has got double speedometers, one in the usual place on the dash and a second one is positioned on the top of the dashboard and in mirror fashion it reflects on to the windscreen so you don’t have to look at the dash to check your speed. It’s on your windscreen, a transparent speedometer, simple but effective.
Gerald - Bristol

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

Reference Rememan's comments about parental responsibility -I'm all for that. But, we each have individual and collective "duty of care" towards each other and, particularly, towards the more vulnerable. This means anticipating what might "reasonably" occur and taking steps to prevent occurrences or mitigate effects if they do occur.

Comparing roads to railways is not a fair measure: railways are a deliberately designed network built solely for the use of trains e.g. in order to fulfil their duty of care to other people who could reasonably be anticipated to use/interact with the rail system, Network Rail has fenced all their railways to prevent or deter casual or accidental trespass onto the lines.

Other than motorways, roads cannot be fenced off to all but vehicles. They have evolved and are shared by all of us, walking, cycling, driving, and riding; young, old, fit and infirm.

It’s not just about someone else doing what they ought to do – it’s about all of us doing what we all ought to do. A shared network demands shared responsibility.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (21) | Disagree (4)

Am I to assume that the two people who "Dislike" my referral to alternative views of 20mph limits are opposed to debating the subject, and so confident, as Brake seem to be, that they are right that debate should be closed down?

In every aspect of life, argument and debate are not only permissible but essential because it is only then that ideas, evidence and policies can be assessed and can evolve in the right direction. Without alternative views we would still be worried about falling off the edge of the flat earth if we strayed too far.

That is why, ever since I can remember, my response to any proposition is not "Yes sir, three bags full sir!" but "Why" and "How can that be right?"

And is this not the entire purpose of this comment section?
Idris Francis

Agree (12) | Disagree (12)

No doubt part of the increase in casualties in 20mph limits is due to the increase in mileage of them, but there does not appear to be the data to check this. The only meaningful statistic by which the effectiveness of 20mph limits could be assessed is the casualty rate, i.e. the number of casualties per million vehicle-kms. This automatically takes account of changes in road length and traffic volume.

Where direct before-and-after comparisons of the effect of 20mph limits have been possible, such as in Portsmouth, when taking account of changes in traffic flow and national trends, some road user casualties have increased significantly. It is unlikely, therefore, that the increase in casualties in 20mph limits can be explained entirely by the increase in road length.

It seems that the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play in 20mph limits - the increased perception of safety leads people to take less care, thus increasing danger.
Malcolm Heymer, Dereham

Agree (15) | Disagree (5)

As in all forms of life if the parents do not take care and control of their family then they put them in danger. Roads are for vehicles and should be used as such, one doesn't wander onto train lines etc - and how would they consider an extra 20% cost to their living by those who deliver the goods and services through being that much slower and added costs?
REMEMAN Derbyshire

Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

Safe driving is determined by selecting a speed and separation/sight distance that allows one to stop to avoid a collision/impact. Concentration on speed alone is illogical. Further speed limits are not set based on maximum safe speed, even for daylight on a dry day. And in many situations it is unsafe to travel at the speed limit. So concentration on enforcement of speed limits is even more irrational! Speed limits should be set (unless they can be varied electronically) to allow safe speed at the best of times - and most 20mph/ 40 km/h zones have periods of the day and or week where speeds of 30 mph/ 50 km/h are perfectly safe.
John Lambert, Australia

Agree (18) | Disagree (2)

For alternative views of the effects of 20mph limits please see:
Idris Francis

Agree (10) | Disagree (18)

It would be helpful to see what the percentage of additional 20mph roads there were compared to the percentage increase in casualties.

It is also the case that on certain roads even 20 mph is too fast & this should be reduced to 10 mph. Rather than the occasional speed camera, active speed restrictors such as humps or chicanes prove more effective at actually slowing traffic down.

It is a pity that speed limit alterations are nothing but talk though as a review of the UK's roads would not only bring about a safer environment, but on some roads, such as certain motorways, the speed limit could be increased to the benefit of traffic flow.
Laird Assessors, Wirral

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

I have no doubt that many would argue that many times during the day on trunk roads especially one cannot exceed the 20 mph limit anyway.

I have no problem with the limit but will it actually increase one of the greatest dangers, that of tailgating? I suspect that it will, if the vehicle behind you is too close even at 20 mph it won't matter as in the circumstances of having to brake hard collisions will still occur.

We all know that the government wants the 20 limits as an effort to reduce casualty rates and to keep in accord with supporting a European endevour in that respect.

There must be plenty of information and statistics relative to this already available, so long as it's not been fudged.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)