Casualties rise in 20mph zones

July 4, 2014 | By | In News

They’re used everywhere where pedestrians may be at risk: outside schools, shopping areas and quiet residential streets. However, the 20mph zone is proving to be an ineffective method of enforcing road safety, after new figures revealed the number of serious accidents in these low speed areas has risen by a whopping 26 per cent.

Analysis of Government data by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) showed that as well as serious collisions involving injuries being up by over a quarter, the number of minor accidents in 20mph zones has also risen by 17 per cent in the last year.

The usefulness of 20mph zones is further called into question when compared to the number of serious accidents on roads with 30mph and 40mph limits, which have seen reductions of seven and nine per cent respectively. Minor collisions were also down by a similar degree.

“More evaluation and research is needed into the real world performance of 20mph limits to ensure limited funds are being well spent."

It isn’t just the number of cars being crashed that has risen in 20mph zones, the number of people injured has also seen a sharp rise, with serious casualties up 29 per cent – raising concerns as to whether the low speed limit is the best way of ensuring pedestrian safety.

IAM chief executive Simon Best commented: “The government and councils need to take stock on the effectiveness of 20mph signs. Recent advice, guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place.

“More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they do not seem to be delivering fewer casualties. The IAM are concerned that this is because simply putting a sign on a road that still looks like a 30mph zone does not change driver behaviour.

“More evaluation and research is needed into the real world performance of 20mph limits to ensure limited funds are being well spent. In locations with a proven accident problem, authorities need to spend more on changing the character of our roads so that 20mph is obvious, self-enforcing and above all contributes to fewer injuries.”

Do you think 20mph zones are an effective way of calming traffic and protecting vulnerable road users? Have your say below.

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