Road Safety News

ABD calls for halt to 20mph rollout

Wednesday 3rd September 2014

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is calling for the Government to halt the rollout of 20mph zones following a survey of its members, and what it describes as “further increases in 20mph accidents”.

The ABD points to recent data analysis by the IAM which suggests that casualties and collisions increase on roads where a 20mph limit is introduced.

In the recent online survey of its members, 95% of the 548 who responded agreed that the rollout of 20mph zones and limits should be halted until the results of the DfT’s research into the effectiveness of 20mph limits are known.

Responding to the claims, 20’s Plenty founder Rod King MBE said the ABD had “demonstrated a basic ignorance of statistics” and “a willingness to misinform the media”.

Other ABD survey results included: 98% of respondents agreed that “observation and adjusting your speed to the conditions was a more important aspect of safe driving the obeying a 20mph limit”; 77% agreed that “educating all road users on their responsibility under the Highway Code would make the biggest contribution to road safety in built up areas”; while less than 4% thought that “20mph advocates had made a credible case”.

Sean Corker, ABD spokesman, said: "The fact that proponents of 20mph zones continue to campaign for their introduction despite increases in accidents suggests that the ultimate aim of reducing speed limits is to discourage driving rather than making the roads safer.

"There is no such thing as a "20mph road" or a "30mph road" as road architecture and hazard density change continuously. If we add in variable weather conditions then the advice given by 20mph advocates - that safe driving consists of simply obeying a 20mph speed limit - is potentially dangerous.

“While it may be perfectly safe to drive on a particular stretch of road at 30mph on sunny weekday afternoon with clear sight lines and low hazard density, the same stretch of road on an icy January morning during rush hour is a completely different proposition."

In response, Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “The ABD have referenced the IAM report on increased total casualties on 20mph roads in 2013, without any acknowledgment that IAM themselves recognised that the large number of roads changed from 30mph to 20mph makes any conclusion impossible. This demonstrates a basic ignorance of statistics and a willingness to misinform the media.

“This press release demonstrates why ABD has so little influence in road safety circles. It reflects a refusal to accept the validity of speed limits generally.

“Traffic authorities in most of our iconic cities have come to the conclusion after careful consideration and trials that 20mph is the right limit for most residential roads. They see the benefits which not only include lower casualties but also a wide range of community gains.

“The survey results from ABD members are about as surprising as a survey showing that turkeys are unanimous in opposing Christmas.”


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It was more observational than personal. On one occasion I was speaking at a public meeting at Kent. 3 ABD members sat in the very back row. They were scowling, muttering and shaking their heads all through my presentation. When it came to questions they got their crib sheet of "gotchas" out.

I am sure you have heard them before: about their over acquaintance with 2nd gear when travelling at 20mph. Their obsession with the speedo. And so on! All of which gave me the opportunity to de-bunk them clearly and emphatically. So in conclusion. No we haven't met and I don't even know if you do belong to the ABD.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

A note from "surly"
A lesson for you all, do not send emails without reading them twice and then double checking! I always thought Victor Meldrew had a good common sense approach, so being described as like him, I do not find that offensive. I can certainly guarantee that I have more years behind me than in front, so I would like to make the most of them.

Returning to a speed limit that was abandoned in 1930 as out-dated is not on my wish list, especially when adjoining speed limits are then also downgraded. Trouble is there are too many 'experts' on forums like this and not enough 'drivers' who also respect personal liberty.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

Sorry Rod... I thought that for one moment we had met and you were talking about me.

Its called the V.M.S. Short for Victor Meldrew Syndrom that many males over a certain age suffer from, and it's due to longevity and experience in life and hormonal changes. I have to wonder why you made such a personal attack on such a nice group of people, many of whom are pensioners surly or otherwise. Not required. I trust that it was said in jest. If not... well, shame on you.
bob Craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

"Surly the ABD", was that a Freudian slip! Certainly whenever ABD members have turned up at a conference or meeting that I have attended they have seemed a "surly lot".

I see that synonyms for "surly" are:- bad-tempered, ill-natured, grumpy, glum, crotchety, prickly, cantankerous, irascible, testy, ill-tempered, short-tempered, ungracious, splenetic, choleric, dyspeptic, bilious, crusty, abrupt, brusque, curt, gruff, blunt, churlish, ill-humoured, crabbed, crabby, uncivil, morose, dour, sullen, sulky, moody, moping, sour, unfriendly, unpleasant, scowling, unsmiling;
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (8) | Disagree (9)

Surly the ABD survey was prompted by the DfT's announcement that it was to commission research into the benefits or otherwise of 20mph speed limits? Therefore until these results are known, then councils should be stopped from continuing these downgrades.
Perhaps those wishing for the reintroduction of this 1903 speed limit are afraid the DfT survey might not come up with the answers they want? Those supporting these unpopular limits know that residents only want to see 20mph down ONE road and funny enough, they live on that road!
Terry Hudson

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

I agree with Eric that ABD should be invited to comment on 20's Plenty press releases. After all ABD represents the driver whilst I am not sure who 20's Plenty represents.
Bobbio Chiswell Green

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

“98% of drivers thought that observation and adjusting your speed to the conditions was a more important aspect of safe driving the obeying a 20mph limit.”

“77% thought that educating all road users on their responsibility under the Highway Code would make the biggest contribution to road safety in built up areas.”

It’s gratifying to see that the ABD’s understanding of the data is fully matched by its grasp of irony.
Jeremy, Devon

Agree (12) | Disagree (5)

The authorities would probably say that if you thought there was a possibilty of you hitting a child Paul, you should have been looking out for him/her and not at your speedometer. If you need to look at your speedo so much, best do it when there's no likelihood of a child appearing in the road ahead of you. Only takes a split second.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

When driving at very low speeds in a built up area, I'd have thought it imperative and infinitely preferable to look out of the window at what is going on outside rather than continually check the speedometer; would the authorities be happy for the statement "I was looking at the speedo when I heard the thud of me hitting the kiddie hitting the grill and can categorically and definitively say it was only 18 MPH." Especially if the child subsequently dies.
Paul from Barking

Agree (8) | Disagree (8)

A second bite of the cherry if I may - surely someone in authority must have the annual data for 20mph road miles? Here we see claims from "miniscule" to "700% in 4 years"(though what matters in this context is the % increase over the shorter period the IAM covered). And like others I am puzzled that Rod is given as much space for his anti-ABD diatribe as was allowed for the rest of the report.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

While ABD were wrong to use the IAM's analysis, meaningless for the reasons given, it's a bit rich to be criticised for that by Rod King.

To take only one example from his web site, he claimed that ratio of risk between non-motorists and motorists was increasing, but somehow omitted data from preceeding years showing the opposite. In other words that what he complained of amounted to no more than an almost inevitable correction of a statistical blip. And I have seen more evidence of increase in serious injuries in 20mpg areas than otherwise.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

Mr Taylor
I agree with Rod King that the ABD interpretation of the statistics behind the 20mph figures is flawed. In my area for example, while I accept the percentage of 20mph roads is low in comparison with the overall number of 30mph restricted roads (currently around 2%) the actual number of these limits has increased by around 700% in the last four years.

I've no doubt there's been at least a similar increase in many other areas. If the IAM have calculated a 17 to 26% increase in accidents on 20mph roads (depending on severity) perhaps this actually suggests a net decrease when the number of extra roads are accounted for?
Martin, Dorset

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

I didn't realise the ABD had the authority to say that a particular speed limit is invalid.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (31) | Disagree (5)

The proportion of roads converted to 20 mph in a year is miniscule compared to the casualty increase and cannot account for it by any stretch of the imagination.

Mr King, the ABD is listened to in road safety circles, and has never said all speed limits are invalid, only those wrongly set inappropriately low for largely political reasons.
Ian Taylor, Director, ABD. Dover

Agree (14) | Disagree (30)

On-line polls and public opinion surveys on road safety issues (including 20 schemes) have been dismissed by some on this forum in the past as having no credibility - I take it this one will be treated the same?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (28) | Disagree (1)

I agree with you Eric and have mentioned Mr King's involvement in responses in articles before where there is no rebuttal. It's as if his involvement was sought before publication of the article. I believe that 20 is plenty is flawed but it's the way this government wants to go in order to justify its agreements on European road safety measures.

I suggest the next road safety measure after 2020 be 'GIVE MORE SPACE'. Fall back a few yards more. Then others will see you and you will see more and then we will all be able to see and be seen and more able to avoid each other.

Merely reducing speed limits to 20 mph will not accomplish that. It will create even greater dangers but pulling back will mitigate or totally eliminate many a previously dangerous situation.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (14) | Disagree (18)

It's a bit rich for Rod King to accuse others of misinforming the media when he goes on to claim (as he frequently does) that "benefits (of 20mph) ... include lower casualties" when there is no evidence anywhere in the world to support that.

And, in any case, why is Mr King's response included in this item from the ABD? I don't see an ABD rebuttal included with reports of, say, Brake's campaigns. This website should provide a level playing field for debate.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (23) | Disagree (28)