Road Safety News

2016 casualty figures show 30mph is ‘unjust and unjustified’ - 20’s Plenty

Wednesday 4th October 2017

The campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us says that casualty statistics for 2016 highlight that there is ‘no justification for 30mph as the national speed limit’.

Published last week, the DfT statistics show that in 2016 there were 129,837 reported casualties on built up roads - of which 105,981 were on 30mph roads.

588 people (11 a week) were killed and a further 12,849 (246 a week) were seriously injured on 30mph roads - figures described as 20’s Plenty as ‘unacceptable’.

20’s Plenty says the 30mph limit for built up areas was set more than 80 years ago in 1934, in an ‘arbitrary way without evidence or research on survivability’.

The campaign group also says 30mph limits fail to satisfy the sustainable system approach that seeks a road environment where mistakes ‘do not end in death for either those making them or their innocent victims’.

Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty, said: “Across the world 30mph (50kmh) limits are being replaced by 20mph (30kmh) as the right standard where motor vehicles mix with pedestrians and cyclists.

“The 30mph limit that was plucked out of the air in 1934 as being better than no limit, is no longer fit for purpose. It is unjust, unjustifiable and needs to be consigned to history.

“A routinely enforced 20mph limit should be the new urban norm with higher speeds only allowed on roads that protect pedestrians and cyclists with appropriate crossing and segregated facilities.

“It would transform our urban environment and be the foundation for a healthier and more productive nation.”

Category: 20mph.



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I disagree Hugh. Many urban accidents are caused by there being too little space between vehicles so that drivers cannot see anything other than the vehicle in front. As this is the case they may see a danger but they have too little space and time to avoid it or drivers don't see it at all and therefore plough staight into it. Space not speed is the major problem and if this is not identified and recognised many more accidents will occur with all the ramificatons that that brings,
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

I would suggest Bob, that in residential/urban areas far more collisions are as a result of going too fast to see, react and stop in time, rather than one vehicle driving too close to the one in front. I agree that encouraging and promoting safe following distances is important, but the benefits of promoting and ensuring slower speeds go much further in terms of collision reduction.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

I agree with you that speed and space are on many occasions inexorably or even inextricably linked but by merely reducing speed which this intervention seeks to do does not mean that drivers will give safe space which is an intergral problem of todays driving.

Far too much time and effort and previous interventions have in the past merely concentrated on speed alone as being the biggest danger on our roads and has not taken into account the equally dangerous practice posed by not obeying the H.C. s. 126 advice regards to safe space.

A speed of up to 30 mph on a main urban road may not be considered particularly dangerous but if one is only 30ft or less (30 ft being the thinking distance) behind the vehicle in front then it becomes one of the most dangerous positions to be at on the road. Unfortunately many drivers obviously believe otherwise.

I am not against reducing speed limits, I will obey them and have said so many times before on this site but I still remain constant in my belief that the 20 is plenty scheme doesn't go far enough and again only concentrates on basically one issue only that being injuries to pedestrians particularly children and that it badly fails to take into account other matters that contribute to accidents, one of which is the lack of safe space and that will not be addressed by merely reducing speed limits. Indeed from experience it will make matters worse as drivers will drive closer together and the ability of drivers to see possible dangers ahead of the vehicle in front are drastically diminished and the attention of drivers will be more easily distracted by anything else that is about them rather than on the observations they should be keeping to make themselves and others safer on our roads.

Rod you are complelety wrong in your last statement. I made no such remark.

Look at it another way. Some 80% of incidents that occur involving pedestrains occur in busy urban town areas (RoSPA stats) where many times there is usually traffic travelling at speeds well below the 30mph limit anyway due to normal traffic constraints. If traffic travelling slowly or even up to the speed limit gave the correct safe space between vehicles then many collisons or other incidents would be reduced merely by the giving of that greater visual space. Space sufficient enough to recognise a danger and the space in which to act and alleviate the danger to everyones satisfaction without collision.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

I do find it odd Bob, that you're so keen on safe following distances but less impressed by measures to promote or enforce lower speeds, when the two are inexorably linked.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)


Our main case is not one of difference in harm when being hit at 30mph compared to 20mph, but that at 20mph or lower all parties have a much greater ability to avoid anyone being hit. Its about a 20mph car stopping in the same distance as a 30mph car is still doing 24mph. Its about children not having the visual, cognitive or motor skills to cope with vehicles above 20mph. Its not about "blame" but about creating a road environment where no-one needs to be "blamed".

I see no conflict between road safety education and appropriate speed limits for the users of those roads. Most of the money for 20mph implimentation does not come from road safety education budgets, but a wide variety of sources including transport funds, S106, development and Public Health funds.

Your final statement is ludicrous. You are saying that the avoidance of crashes and severity of casualties is not influenced by speed. Speed is the biggest impairment of driver control. It strips away safe distances, it limits the ability of participants to make sound judgements and tests the control mechanisms of a vehicle. And that is before you even look at the effect of speed on vulnerable road user injury.
Rod King, Warrington, 20' Plenty for Us

Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

Two differing positions here. Its got to be true that all road using parties should be aware of the dangers of the road and therefore all should constantly take matters into consideration to keep themselves safe and do no harm to others.

Unfortunately that world as yet does not exist and unless there is total separation it never will and incidents and collisions will continue. Be it on a 30 mph road or a 20 mph road. The 20 is plenty scheme has seized upon a campaign that dates from the 1970's with the opinion that a child would suffer less of an injury at the lower speed and I believe that may be the case but surely its better to take measures that prevent that circumstance happening in the first place rather than merely mitigating its effect.

This scheme to my mind has taken away much of the drive and initiative and monies on possible initiatives that could have been considered as more likely to reduce incidents, collisions, bad driving and deaths etc. and that's a pity.

I do not believe that integration of the road usage with slower vehicles travelling along them will obtain the desired result. It will still result in injures and deaths. There will always be unsafe drivers and unsafe pedestrians and no amount of altered speed limits or arguments or debate on this site are going to affect that outcome.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

It's well known that trains can't possibly stop quick enough on a railway line to avoid a stray pedestrian Jack so it would be unreasonable to apportion blame to a train driver, but motorists can avoid stray pedestrians - if they don't, then they're not trying hard enough. Car v pedestrian collisions are to my mind inexcusable and avoidable. An elderly person with poor awareness or memory, may not remember the green cross code but they do not deserve to be a victim of a motorist who couldn't be bothered taking enough care because of that. Drivers should accept ultimate responsibility in these circumstances in my view - it's not an unreasonable ask.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

There we go again Hugh. Totally exonerating the pedestrian of responsibility and putting the onus on to the driver of the "killing machine". As a general rule people don't get run over whilst on the pavement. What happened to the green cross code. If someone gets knocked down walking across the railway line, who gets the blame then? Lets make the public take their fair share of responsibility and stop witch hunting the driver every time.
Jack Cook Doncaster

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)

The last para of Rod's recent comment says "DfT guidance says that 20mph limits should require no more than routine enforcement." But is that a true reflection of the DfT position?

Here is the context:
Section 6 of the DfT Setting local speed limits 2013 Circular 01/2013 point 85 quoted word for word:

"Successful 20 mph zones and 20 mph speed limits are generally self-enforcing, i.e. the existing conditions of the road together with measures such as traffic calming or signing, publicity and information as part of the scheme, lead to a mean traffic speed compliant with the speed limit. To achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity, unless this has been explicitly agreed." end of quote.

So is Rod's rendering a true and fair reflection of that statement? I think it is something very much taken out of context.
Pat, Wales

Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

As the ones in charge of the 'mobile killing machine' Jack, I feel it is our responsibility not to collide with the slower moving more vulnerable road users, no matter how careless they may be. In an ideal world they would be careful and be paying attention on the roads (but then so should the driver) and slower speeds by the driver ensure advanced notice of the peds movements and time/room to stop. Too many drivers can't or won't judge safe speeds and distances for themselves hence imposed limits.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

Everything is always related to the driver being responsible or irresponsible ie Mrs Bloggs your child has just been run over. How about Mrs Bloggs your child is not paying attention when he is running across the road playing with his mates. Don't always blame the driver. How many people have been knocked down whilst walking on the pavement? Have you really looked at children coming home from school walking/running all over the place. People up town crossing the road without a care in the world quite often with a mobile device glued to their ear. 20 when necessary (at certain times) will get a much better response from the driving public than a blanket 20. The other point I have noticed is that when I am driving in these area's at a much slower but relevant speed, the walking public takes more risk and liberties by literally walking if front of me (or behind when reversing ) without seemingly caring for their own safety but who gets the blame? The driver.
Jack Cook Doncaster

Agree (13) | Disagree (8)

I don't have a problem with limiting speeds to 20 miles/h in appropriate circumstances, but DafT's guidance (if correctly quoted by Rod King MBE) is ludicrous. The early 20th century 20 miles/h speed limit didn't work then, and there's little reason to suppose it will work now - unless we get on with implementing mandatory ISA at that level. Quite why we're not hearing about ISA from the campaigning groups, I don't know ... perhaps because it would render them irrelevant? Why we're not hearing about it from government, of course, is another question. Any answers?
Andrew Fraser

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

Lets see if we can answer the questions posed.

The DfT already get the RTA data showing the speed limit. What I understand they were requesting was the length of 20mph roads, so that they could understand the increasing number of 30mph roads converted to 20mph. Every road converted to 20 means one less 30mph road and hence pool of 30mph casualties.

There is plenty of statistical evidence from individul authorities. But it needs normalising. Hence the Atkins resesearch.

Regarding "history", my source is "The Motor Car and Politics 1896-1970" by William Plowden. Its a good read. There were no speed limits for particular roads before 1935. The 1903 Motor Car Act set a 20mph speed limit for all roads based on class of vehicle. As Plowden says "In the voting, the 15mph proposal was defeated as easily as was the 25mph. The compromise of 20mph was accepted without division." The 1930 change which removed the speed limit for light motor vehicles did not change the 20mph limit for heavy vehicles which remained at 20mph until 1957. But of course the folly of scrapping the limits for cars was soon realised and a limit was re-introduced for 1935, this time for particluar roads (those with lighting). Plowden refers to Stanley (the Minister for Transport) saying "30 mph seemed a reasonable level".

Interestingly in the 2017 RAC Motoring Report it shows driver attitudes to 20mph very similar to 30mph with 54% saying they never exceed the limit compared with 56% for 30mph roads.

The whole point about speed limits is to warn drivers of potential hazards that they would not normally perceive. These go beyond not hitting people and that is why authorities take into account all road users and must take paticular account of the needs of vulnerable road users. DfT guidance says that 20mph limits should require no more than routine enforcement.
Rod King, Warrington, 20' Plenty for Us

Agree (10) | Disagree (11)

"generally".... "in the main"..."the majority of cases" Bob?

"Mrs Bloggs: Your child has just been run over by a driver who didn't understand why he was required to drive at a slower speed but rest assured, in the main, generally speaking, that doesn't happen in the majority of cases". Not very comforting is it? You might see them as the minority Bob, but there's enough of them on the roads to do harm and they're the very drivers who need to be targeted and if they still don't get it, well the sooner they acquire their 12 points and a ban the better.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (10)

Hugh the problem is getting the drivers to understand the reasons for it. They will generally accept lower speeds around schools, hospitals, parks etc but not where they see no reason for it, and don't start on children playing out on the streets. Drivers will generally continue to drive as they have always done and in the main never suffered an accident or killed a child.

In villages that are not known as accident black spots ie no apparent hazards and no change to justify a lower speed limit.

In the main they are just a ribbon village and with no other road users including pedestrians are about the driver has to ask himself why do we have to drive at such a slow speed and in the majority of the cases they are right in asking that question.

That said it appears that they totally fail to take into account the harm that they are doing to the atmosphere and the millions of others that they and we are all killing by our continuing use of the petrol or diesel engines.

One question when all vehicles are planet friendly in the future will we be able to re increase the speed limits as lowering it to 20 mph saw no road safety benefits at all.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (9)

The RSGB article quotes Rod as saying "A routinely enforced 20mph limit ...." Right there is the unreality in the argument. That is not happening in the majority of 20s NOW. In one of Rod's own press releases a while ago it quotes a You Gov survey saying "71% of drivers agreed ‘people will ignore 20mph limits because they don’t see themselves getting caught by the police'. As enforcement hasn't improved, that is probably going to continue to be the case.

Until widespread ingrained driver attitudes to speed change and/or a massive turnround happens in police funding directed to roads policing for enforcement, high levels of compliance in 20mph speed limits will remain a pipe dream in the minds of the campaigners.
Pat, Wales

Agree (16) | Disagree (6)

As ever, it's not the lower limit itself that's the problem, it's getting the motorist to a) notice it in the first place and b) actually comply with it. If they don't notice or even think to look out for speed limit signs, then they probably won't notice and be able to react to the hazards which make the lower limits necessary in the first place. An assessment of 20 limits is not really possible without knowing the actual speeds which result.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

The DfT report did say that of all the numerous rta requests for statistical information from local authorities regarding 20 mph schemes only 25% responded. Even though since 2014/15 such schemes had increased by some 25%.

Many have been in situ for over a decade and as yet there is no absolute or conclusive statistical evidence that it works as a road safety measure at all. Had it done so I would have thought that LAs would have been shouting its praises from the rooftops.

The report further stated and I quote 'This supports the hypothesis that the increases in accident numbers is not as a result of 20 mph roads being less safe, but as a result of roads having the speed limit reduced.'

Please can anyone explain what they mean by that?

Finally I think that Mr King should re read his history as the 20 mph scheme did come into being in the early 1900 and was found to be a bad idea and subsequently abandoned. As a result, there being no speed limit more accidents happened and subsequently the 30 mph was introduced and found to be a resounding success. We have retained that speed limit since then and in general it has been universally adopted and accepted by the motoring public worldwide. He states that the 30 mph limit was plucked out of the air assuming that any government would implement such a scheme without some form of evaluation.

Where is the evidence that supports this statement?
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (15) | Disagree (8)