Road Safety News

20's Plenty calls for new ‘national’ 20mph urban speed limit

Thursday 2nd November 2017

The campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us is calling for the Government to set a national 20mph limit for urban areas, rather than simply ‘recommending’ this as the most appropriate speed.

20’s Plenty says all but two inner London boroughs, and more than half of the UK’s largest urban authorities, now have 20mph limits for ‘most roads’ - and 70% of the population support 20mph limits.

20’s Plenty says the Government is facing criticism from many local authorities because it is asking them to take all the responsibility and costs of setting 20mph limits while it ‘washes its hands of national marketing and police enforcement standards that would come from setting a 20mph national urban default’.

According to 20’s Plenty, a national 20mph limit would be cost effective, reduce casualties, improve air quality and raise exercise levels. It says the Government should now lower the national urban speed limit from 30mph to 20mph - and allow local authorities to decide what roads should be exempt from this.

Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “By not making the change from a discredited 80 year-old 30mph limit that is neither national nor best practice, the Government is failing in its duty to protect vulnerable road users - especially the young, elderly and disabled.

“It’s time to end the postcode lottery of speeds on some residential and community streets 50% higher than the 20mph set by responsible councils who have opted to reject the unsafe 30mph.

“It’s time to say that 20 is plenty wherever motor vehicles mix with people on the public places between buildings that we call streets.

“It’s time for the Government to set a national 20mph limit for urban roads and allow local authorities to decide its exceptions.”

Category: 20mph limits.



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It is interesting that it is 20's Plenty view that councils who agree with them for 20mph speed limits are "responsible councils". I wonder if those councils that followed the DfT 'Setting Local Speed Limits' guidance and concluded that 30mph was the correct speed would not also be considered "responsible councils" by 20's Plenty?
Guzzi, Newport

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Why not have 25 mph as the default speed limit as a compromise or have warning signs which change from 20 to 30 mph out of hours along the main roads. When considering speed limit reduction on roads their effects on journey times should also be considered and the potential for fatigue related incidents.
Derek Hertfordshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (8)

Speeding isn't actually widespread Pat and certainly not in 30s, it's still the exception fortunately... however in 20s, the picture is different and unfortunately the percentage of speeders is going to be higher.

By hardcore speeder I mean those who apparently have no qualms about doing 35,40, 50 etc in a 30 (i.e. whatever they can get away with) and would no doubt do so in a 20, but at least they're easier to spot by even the untrained observer (residents possibly?) and could be reported - with time of day - for action, which I think the police would respond to, rather than spending a couple of hours in wait and in hope, for the offenders to pass at the right time.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

Charles, Hugh
For the SP011 report that Adrian refers to DfT measure traffic flows and speeds across the country and a sample of these (116) are at locations chosen to exclude “external factors that might restrict driver behaviour”. Only nine of these have a 20mph limit and DfT state in their report[1] that these “may not be typical of most 20mph roads”. Indeed, most of these roads are arterial without any sign of housing and clearly not residential. We have mapped their location on Google Maps at In most wide-area 20mph roll outs such roads would probably be excluded and left at 30mph, or be given additional signage, engineering or enforcement.

Hence these are not typical 20mph roads.

To reverse your hypothesis are you seriously suggesting that those drivers who speed in a 30mph road would not increase their speed if the limit were raised to 40mph?

The speed limit also has a consequence in terms of civil liability in the case of a crash. See Rehman v Brady in which a driver at 28mph in a 20mph limit was found 100% liable even though the casualty had acted negligently.
Rod King, Warrington, 20' Plenty for Us

Agree (1) | Disagree (13)

Hugh, I get your drift re less wriggle room however, in practical terms looking at both the average and the 85th percentile speed of a road from 24x7 data surveys clearly indicates widespread speeding does mean widespread. Most definitely extremely common and not just the hard core persistent speeders. Getting caught for speeding by roads policing is certainly an "if" not a probability given the current abysmal levels of resources given to speed enforcement on normal roads. Speeding non-compliance is always an elephant in the room and especially so for 20mph limits/zones.
Pat, Wales

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

What Pat says is probably true - for the minority of hard core persistent speeders - but if and when caught and prosecuted, what would have been a small margin over the limit, would now be a much larger margin over the now lower limit - easier to detect and less easy to wriggle out of. They don't have to speed!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

Local Authorities receive a lot of complaints about drivers speeding in a 30mph speed limit. Why would anyone expect those drivers to drive slower just because there is a different, lower number on the sign? Not much connection between posted speed limits and actual speeds as Charles mentioned in the first post.
Pat, Wales

Agree (18) | Disagree (4)

The evidence against 30mph roads is pretty clear: 588 people left home last year and didn't return to their loved ones and a further 12,857 arrived home seriously injured, all from crashes on 30mph road. I have yet to see the evidence that shows that 30mph is safe in an urban setting, particularly for vulnerable roads users?
Adrian, Tunbridge Wells

Agree (8) | Disagree (21)

It was once said (I'm not sure by whom) that we are "a nation of minor law-breakers" and when it comes to certain motoring laws, that does seem to be true. Whether a speed limit is knowingly or unknowingly ignored by some, does not make it the wrong limit, but to me, either way it is a worrying indication of the state of mind, lack of sense of public safety and civic responsibility of these motorists who are seemingly only able to maintain responsible speeds either by having their vehicles physically slowed down or under threat of penalties - neither should be necessary.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (18)

Adrian, with respect, that data does *not* in any way, shape or form show that the introduction of the lower limits result in lower speeds. As we all (should) know, 20mph limits are only installed where road speeds are low anyway, so to imply that the new limits are in any way responsible for the inevitable and pre-existent lower speeds fools nobody - except the gullible and/or uninformed, perhaps.

What we need are fully independent scientific studies, produced by accredited statistical analysis experts, using large scale before and after data, proving that traffic speeds drop significantly as a direct result of 20mph limits replacing 30mph limits (and not due to other concurrent changes or influences). Even from the limited and evidently unscientific and self-published council "studies" (marking their own homework) we have seen to date, there is no such proof.
Charles, England

Agree (24) | Disagree (5)

Adrian: Very few 30 or 20 roads have their speeds monitored, so quoting an overall average, free-flowing speed is misleading and in reality will vary widely and depend on individual roads' physical characteristics. The speeds you have quoted - in particular for the 30s - I'm sure do not relate to residential roads and are more likely to be on wider, main/distributor roads which may well be one of the excepted roads referred to.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

Here we go again.

I'm perfectly happy with the DfT's current position as laid out in DfT Setting local speed limits Circular 01/2013.

As mentioned on previous occasions, campaigners including Rod and his 20s plenty band are over-egging their achievements and are no where near the tipping point of making this a default by majority opinion. Keep banging your drum Rod if you want, but don't expect us (me) to believe your hype.
Pat, Wales

Agree (25) | Disagree (8)


According to DfT SPE011, lower limits means slower speeds:
Avg freeflow speeds on 30 mph roads = 31mph (53% exceed 30mph)
Avg freeflow speeds on 20 mph roads = 25mph (15% exceed 30mph)

Seems conclusive to me
Adrian, Tunbridge Wells

Agree (9) | Disagree (20)

Re Rod's last sentence - are there, or will there be any Dft guidelines on how the local authorities are to determine the excepted 30 limit roads, within a default 20 limit area? It does seem to be a sticking point, leading to inconsistencies from authority to authority.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

There seems to be an implication here that speeds are somehow significantly influenced by speed limits. We know that replacing 30mph with 20mph limits has no significant impact on traffic speeds, so it seems a little disingenuous to claim that the introduction of 20mph limits offers any kind of safety, pollution or economic benefit at all. As far as I can tell, all that such speed limits do is pander to the gullible, ill-informed and misled voters, who have swallowed the propaganda peddled by certain campaign groups. It seems that some councillors and some councils are happy to allow the electorate to continue to believe the hype whilst it means they can "be seen to be doing something" and they can thus avoid spending money on effective road safety measures. Expecting the government to aid and abet this agenda seems a bit rich to me.
Charles, England

Agree (30) | Disagree (16)