Road Safety News

Poster campaign underpins Lancashire’s move to 20mph limits

Wednesday 17th October 2012

Images of injured children are the key component of a new campaign aiming to drive home the message that obeying new 20mph limits in Lancashire's residential areas could save lives.

The campaign, developed by Lancashire County Council, features posters displayed on billboards and bus shelters. The posters state that a person hit at 30mph is seven times more likely to die than a person hit at 20mph, figures which the council attributes to DfT research.

20mph signs have now been installed on more than half of residential roads in Lancashire, as part of council’s programme to establish 20mph as the new limit on all residential roads and outside schools by the end of 2013.

Casualty records in Lancashire reveal that 68% of collisions in which people are seriously killed or injured are recorded in 30mph areas, and 79% of these are either on foot or bicycle.

County Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Many areas of Lancashire now have 20mph limits and this campaign highlights why we've introduced them.

“Although accident rates have fallen in recent years, figures show that some parts of Lancashire have among the worst accident records in the country.

“The images used in the campaign are hard-hitting because our research suggests they will be an effective way of encouraging drivers to recognise the serious consequences the 20mph areas are designed to guard against.

“The new limits will only add a short time to most car journeys and the message is that taking an extra minute or so could be enough to save somebody's life.”

The council recently announced what it describes as ‘promising results’ from three pilot 20mph schemes which have been established for approximately 18 months. In the three years before the 20mph limits were introduced, there were 137 casualties across the three areas, but in the period since, 25 injury accidents have been recorded.

The 20mph areas are part of an overarching initiative called ‘Healthy Streets’, which ties together many areas of the council's work, including encouraging people to walk, cycle and car share, in order to improve safety by reducing the dominance of motor vehicles on residential roads.

For more information contact Mike Warren at Lancashire County Council on 01772 533537.


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Thanks for the information Paul but how will you know how many casualties would have occurred in the 3 pilot areas had the speed limit not been reduced to 20mph? You would almost certainly have selected for your pilot those areas with unusually high casualties therefore a dramatic reduction could be expected anyway (without intervention) due to regression to the mean.

Did you consider selecting 3 pairs of areas, and then randomly selecting 1 of each pair to have the 20mph, the others remaining at 30mph? This is the basis of a scientific trial and, had that been done, it would not only have provided control sites against which to compare the 20mph pilots, but it would, I believe, have been the first scientific trial of any road safety intervention in the UK.

What do Lancashire County Council perceive the benefits and downsides of scientific trials to be?
Dave Finney - Slough

Agree (2) | Disagree (4)

In response to comments about the statistics from Lancashire's pilot 20mph areas, I'd like to clarify the results as it is certainly not our intention to mislead anyone.

Before rolling out the programme to put 20mph limits in place in all residential areas, the county council put three 'pilots' in place in areas of Preston, Morecambe and Burnley to inform how the wider roll-out would be done. These have been in place since September 2010, December 2010 and February 2011 respectively.

In the three years before the 20mph limits were put in place, total casualties across these areas (KSI and slight) were 137. With regard to the after periods, we have casualty records available up to the end of April 2012 which gives approximately 18 months of after data during which there have been 25 casualties in total (KSI and slight). The KSI comparison is 18 in the three years before and 2 since.

As the county council has stated in other press reports, we don't want to attach too much weight to these results as we know it's early days and casualty results can fluctuate for all kinds of reasons. We will continue to monitor the three pilot areas without drawing firm statistical conclusions until three years data becomes available.
Paul Binks, road and transport safety manager, Lancashire County Council

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

20 really is absurdly slow as a maximum speed limit. But even so, on this 20 limit road in Poole, for example,,-1.988257&spn=0.000352,0.00068&t=h&z=21&layer=c&cbll=50.712903,-1.988257&panoid=GhYF8_SSAgvq0pB4vdeu5g&cbp=12,227.57,,0,-20.86

anyone driving above 10 is a lunatic. The 20 limit is therefore totally pointless – anyone reckless enough to do anything like 20 isn’t going to take the slightest notice of a 20 limit. The safe speed to drive is dependent on so many things that a fixed number will never define a good safety / efficiency compromise that doesn’t criminalize responsible careful driving. Surely far fewer children will be hurt, seriously or slightly, if this obsession with speed is replaced by a more balanced, intelligent approach targeting all driving issues.
Ian Belchamber, Poole

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

The more I look at this poster and think about it, it would be far more effective to retain the worst of the two images, but without any reference to speed limits and just have the message: "This is what I will look like if you hit me"! and let the driver work it out.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (15) | Disagree (0)

That is a disturbing image. There are reasons that could justify the use of such an image, but a clear and definite danger must be demonstrated and the solution promoted must be “proved beyond reasonable doubt”. So they could be used for seat belts, drink driving or AIDs, for example, but not for a policy that appears to have failed where it has been tried.

If the proposal was to run scientific trials I would be in favour of those and, if 20mph speed limits did produce the benefits claimed, then the campaign might be justifiable.

But if Lancashire go ahead without scientific trials and they get the same results as Portsmouth, they would end up with the poster displaying the opposite of the end result. Surely that is far too high a risk to take?
Dave Finney - Slough

Agree (13) | Disagree (10)

I feel that the only reason that there has been a fall in areas that have been altered to the 20 mph limit in the last 18 months is that drivers are avoiding them. 18 months ago I mentioned about Blackpool, in that about 7 streets leading down to an adjoining street have been reduced to 20 mph plus what I consider the largest humps and cushions that I have ever driven over. But whilst these are on residential streets the one that they all run down to has a Primary School on it, and low and behold that street is not included and is still 30 mph.

It was the government's intention that all minor roads in all villages and townships be slowed to 20 mph as blanket cover requiring possibly 6 or 7 signs. Now they are keeping arterial roads at present limits so every street, road and avenue off those arterial roads will require a sign at the beginning and at the end so a village or town will have to put up hundreds if not thousands of extra signage and if, like Blackpool, a lot of humps and bumps also.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)

I hate Josip Beluši, why? Because he invented the speedometer way back in 1888.

If only he had invented a Stopometer instead, a far superior instrument that tells you how long in time and how far in distance it would take you to come to a halt, then perhaps we wouldn't need campaigns like this.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (21) | Disagree (0)

Alerted in 2008 to Portsmouth's claims of "encouraging signs" after 12 months of 20mph because the data available could not be statistically significant, I contacted the Council and was seriously concerned by what I found - documented at

Then and a year later I showed that although slight injuries had fallen, SI had risen. I recently obtained data for another 2 years and produced graphs for the whole period. They show that:

SI was 38% higher in 4th year than had they followed national trend, with 15 extra over 4 years. Adjusted for likely (and initially reported) traffic reduction of 10% as drivers avoided the area, they become 52% and 23 SI.
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (8) | Disagree (10)

I’ve never liked the type of road safety advert (as pictured) which suggests that if you collide with a pedestrian at 20 whilst it’s unfortunate, it’s not fatal and much better than hitting them at 30 (which it obviously is), but the message should always be “Don’t hit any pedestrian anywhere AT ANY SPEED”.

It’s not difficult… defensive driving is the key once again and should be promoted at every opportunity. If that means slowing to 5 or 10 mph on a residential street as and when required, so be it, that’s what we must be prepared to do as individual drivers.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (20) | Disagree (0)

"In the three years before the 20mph limits were introduced, there were 137 casualties across the three areas, but in the period since, 25 injury accidents have been recorded."

I'm suspicious when measures are so vague and misleading. "Casualties" and "injury accidents" are not the same (more injuries than injury accidents), what is the "after" time period, and note the use of the word "recorded" in the after-period but not before.
Also, are there other pilots which have been even less "promising"?

All 20mph schemes have experienced increased casualties with lower traffic volume - my surmise is that that is the case in Lancs. The inevitable result of a campaign based on hitting people at lower speeds kills fewer of them.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (8) | Disagree (14)