Road Safety News

Partnership launches 30mph reminder campaign

Wednesday 16th January 2013

The Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership is running a campaign to remind motorists that when they are in a built-up area with street lights, the speed limit is 30mph unless otherwise signed.

The Partnership says that it issues around 50,000 speeding tickets a year, with the majority of its cameras operating in 30mph limits.

Councillor Bryan Sweetland, from Kent County Council, said: “30mph roads are complex environments, with traffic moving in different directions, parked cars, crossings, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

“The speed you choose to travel through these areas is critical in deciding whether you have enough time and space to deal with this complexity safely.

“In addition, pedestrians hit at 35mph are twice as likely to be killed than those hit at 30mph.

“The Partnership is keen that motorists remember that Street lights mean 30 whenever they are out on the road and in a built-up area, not just at safety camera sites.”

Katherine Barrett, communications officer for the Partnership, said: “Some drivers who receive speeding tickets had no idea they were travelling in a 30mph zone.  We are therefore launching the Street lights mean 30 campaign to raise awareness that if you are in a built up area and there are street lights then the speed limit is 30mph unless it is signed otherwise.

“We don’t want to catch people speeding, we’d like them to slow down, and we hope that people will remember the campaign message when out on the road because it is 30 for a reason.

A television advert is running throughout January on Meridian TV and posters, speed limit cards and trolley coins with the Street lights mean 30 message are free to order from the Partnership’s website or by emailing

For more information contact Katherine Barrett on 01622 653793.


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I believe the main problem lies in the fact that many former 40 or 50 mph dual carriageways are being made "restricted" and thus have a default 30mph speed limit without the repeaters that drivers are used to seeing. In these cases relying on street lighting is not acceptable. The limit clearly does not "fit" the look of the road and thus drivers will think they are in a higher limit....even when faced with a bright yellow speed camera. 30 repeaters should be allowed on any dual carriageway road subject to "restricted" status. Then watch the camera fines plummet and drivers being fined and penalised for doing 35 on a dual carriageway reduced. Streetlights mean 30 is based on the 1930's when all streetlights were in towns and there were no dual carriageways.
Frank Buckle, London

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

I think that all speed limits should be clearly posted with negative order signs. I also think there should be positive order minimum speed limit signs posted on fast all purpose roads and motorways.

If various councils wish to save money by leaving roads dangerously unlit, then how about replacing the low pressure and high pressure sodium street lights with safer lumi-LEDs instead? After all, not all of us have got vehicles with HID headlights.
Phil, Kent

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Now Duncan, you know perfectly well that the limit is in force where there is a system of street lighting and applies 24 hours a day not only when the lights are switched on! In North Yorkshire we have a process that checks both collision and crime records in any area where we are considering switching off street lights between midnight and 4 or 5 a.m. I think may authorities are also doing this.

I think most drivers can see street lighting columns when their headlights are on even when the street lights are switched off. But I do agree with others that 30 mph repeaters in selected places would make so much sense - why not?
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

All well and good, but some Councils are switching their streetlights off in the wee small hours to save money. If the lights are off it follows that they cannot therefore be seen and so the 30mph speed limit no longer applies. Bet they didn't think of that!
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)

Some motorists are caught speeding because they deliberately exceed the speed limit but there are many more who fail to recognise that they are in a 30mph area simply because there are no signs (other than street lights) telling them it is 30mph. Because most roads today have street lights, drivers have become 'blind' to their presence and subsequently drive at a speed that they think is okay. I think the campaign is very worthwhile but would prefer to see repeater 30mph signs to remove the doubt altogether.
Tim Draper - Leeds

Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

"The majority of drivers have no influence on the 85%ile at all." In fact the 85th percentile is determined by the 85% majority who choose not to exceed that speed, not the by the 15% who do.

It was determined decades ago that it was entirely reasonable to assume that as most drivers do not crash, most of the time, a speed which 85% of them to not exceed is by definition safe. Again, it is that 85% who determine that a particular speed is safe, not the 15% who choose to exceed it.

No one is saying that limits should be determined by the 15% who exceed the 85th percentile speed.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (11)

Is Steve saying that when drivers decide - as they constantly must - on the safe speed at any given point and time they pay no attention to whether it is safe for others too? All drivers know that if they cause accidents to others they are in trouble themselves, so what is unsafe for others is automatically unsafe for them too.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts

Agree (4) | Disagree (8)


Can I remind you please that this story is about a campaign to remind drivers that 'street lights mean 30mph'. Can I ask that any further posts should address the topic in the news item, not wider issues relating to speed. Thanks for your co-operation.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (14) | Disagree (0)

Eric: exactly - the speed the drivers won't exceed due to their subjective perception of safety, which due to the way the human being is put together centres around the safety of oneself and their offspring. Therefore the 85%ile is entirely subjective on the part of the drivers of motor vehicles. I admire your dedication to road safety, it is mine too, that is why I am part of the 'anti-speed mob'.
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (3) | Disagree (4)


Firstly "the "streetlights 30" caused speeds in some 30mph streets to increase!" How was this increase attributed to the campaign and not any other factor?

Secondly, the Road Safety Partnership has identified, through feedback from the people caught, that there is an issue in their area. They are seeking to address this with a Road Safety Campaign (the Education in ETP), so I fail to see how this can be "flawed". If these are fixed cameras then they will have had achieved the criteria to install them in these areas and are actively seeking to stop drivers being caught by them, lower speeds and reduce the risks of collisions.

I suspect that it is an issue for other areas as well.
Mike Wilson Leics RSO

Agree (7) | Disagree (5)

I agree with Rod, it is essential that Road Safety is involved in any debate on this website (it is, after all, a Road Safety website). For that reason, every posting I have made here has been from a road safety viewpoint, aiming to improve road safety. Others have preached compliance, "quality of life", "benefits beyond road safety" and what they are proposing is actually detrimental to road safety. I am neither pro-speed or anti-speed, I am 100% pro road safety.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (6) | Disagree (13)

If we can put aside the inflammatory language, then I believe “supplied” asks a very relevant question.

To me, the answer is that we are seeing the results of a cultural shift in the way that speed is valued in our society.

In the Netherlands that shift came in the 70s with their "stop child murder" movement and did so when there were still large numbers of pedestrians and particularly cyclists.

In this country we have achieved an admirable international reputation for road safety through building better road safety for those within cars and by reducing the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists.

But now, when society is beginning to recognise the dis-benefits of an over-reliance on motorised transport and to appreciate and promote active travel, we are seeing that same cultural shift in the UK and some real challenges to the traditional value that has been put on speed.

And it is entirely correct that Road Safety should be involved in the resulting debate.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (14) | Disagree (3)

Why is this website being hijacked more and more being by the anti speed mob?

Agree (20) | Disagree (10)

Steve: I disagree. The 85% represents the speed that 85% of drivers will not exceed in order to achieve safety, which is measured in terms of the safety of all road users. 85% of drivers drive so as to avoid ANY collision with anyone or anything. 20mph road markings are interesting but still leave a contradiction. My local council also found that the "streetlights 30" caused speeds in some 30mph streets to increase! It could be a well-meant campaign but it's ultimately flawed.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (3) | Disagree (15)

Also remember that the 85%ile is actually defined by the 15% of drivers who exceed it. The majority of drivers have no influence on the 85%ile at all.

Surely if we take speed limits out of the equation then speeds will be related to the perceived danger rather than the real danger. Hence it is in those places where there is most disparity between the perception of danger from behind a steering wheel and the actual danger that exists with the roads and its users that speed limits are most valuable. To set them on the basis of the speed found acceptable to the 15% fastest drivers is flawed.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

Eric: The 85%ile only applies to drivers. This is the speed at which drivers feel safe to drive. It has nothing to do with the safety of those not in the car with them - pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders or other road users. Hence the speed limit.

In a 20 mph zone they also have roundels, so street lights or no, the offenders would still be able to ascertain the speed limit of those particular roads.

Agree (17) | Disagree (4)

If they didn't know it was 30mph then they should not have passed their test. It's the default for anywhere with streetlights. And 30mph is far too fast for most urban roads with lots of cyclists or pedestrians crossing or for rural roads with no pavements where pedestrians share the road.
Claire Nash, Skipton, N. Yorks

Agree (16) | Disagree (8)

Surely given that safety camera partnerships are now largely self funding there's a vested interest in catching people speeding? If there were no fines there would be no funding for the partnership and everyone would be out of job and there would be no camera enforcement.

It's not the fault of the partnerships but the governement seems to have created an enforcement situation which relies on the perpetuation of the infringement it was set up to stop.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (11) | Disagree (9)

It's a good idea to remind drivers that streetlights mean 30 but there is more behind this story.

"Some drivers who receive speeding tickets had no idea they were travelling in a 30mph zone"

This suggests to me that the speed limit is artificially low - well under the 85%ile.
"it is 30 for a reason." This phrase gets trotted out a lot but what EXACTLY is that reason?

Finally, do they not have streetlights in 20mph zones? Does this message encourage drivers to exceed 20?
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (35)