The majority of drivers would oppose any plans to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit in urban areas, according to new research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
Less than a third of motorists quizzed feel a reduction in the speed limit would be a good idea, while a fifth are undecided on the issue. The remainder – which are more likely to be men than women – are against the introduction of a lower limit.
Age wasn’t a factor in this opposition, with the majority of motorists in both young and older age groups against the 20mph limit. In fact, despite having a reputation for reckless driving, more younger drivers than old were in favour of introducing a new limit.
However, drivers did almost universally agree that 20mph zones should be implemented outside schools, with 94 per cent voicing their support. Other areas with high numbers of pedestrians, such as parks, shopping areas and hospitals, were also seen as good places to set 20mph zones.
“Drivers are not as negative about 20mph speed limits as many commentators would have us believe."
While the lower speed limit was seen as majorly beneficial to the safety of those on foot, drivers were less convinced of the advantages for cyclists, with only eight per cent of respondents saying they’d like to see 20mph zones introduced around cycle lanes. Reducing noise and emissions pollution were not seen as important benefits.
Drivers were also in favour of a laissez-faire approach to enforcement of 20mph zones, with three-quarters preferring speed limit signs to physical traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps. Only a fifth of motorists thought that enforcing 20mph limits should be a police priority.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Drivers are not as negative about 20mph speed limits as many commentators would have us believe. Those responding to our survey found it quite easy to stick to 20 and there is large-scale support for 20mph outside schools.”
“However, most drivers don’t want 30mph zones to be replaced with 20mph in towns. Many drivers still need to be convinced it would be a benefit. Re-education is also much more popular than prosecution. Good design and widespread consultation is the key to the successful use of 20mph zones as a road safety tool because limits that match the road environment enforce themselves.”
Would you like to see greater implementation of 20mph zones as a traffic-calming measure? Have your say below.