20mph Urban Speed Limits given real consideration

July 4, 2014

Many of the road traffic accidents that happen every year are in heavily populated urban areas. Areas where there are pedestrian crossings, bicycle lanes and bus lanes as well as regular roads and in many of these areas the speed limit is 30mph. The government has now commissioned research looking into the effects of cutting that urban 30mph speed limit to 20mph.

This new research has been commissioned by the Department of Transport and Transport Minister Robert Goodwill and is being headed up by Professor Michael Maher of London University. Initial statements have suggested the research will take three years to complete. It is planned to examine the impact on collisions, casualties and air quality, if the speed limit were to be lowered across the board.

Green MP and Party Leady Caroline Lucas recently tabled a question, asking whether there was any possibility of 20mph becoming the national default speed limit for urban areas and the Transport Minister put this answer in the hands of local authorities, suggesting it was up to them to make decisions on their local speed limits and the needs of their local area. It was in this statement he also highlighted the research that was planned.

Trials and pilot studies are being carried out across the country. Pilot 20 mph limit schemes have been organised across the county of Hampshire and Birmingham City Council too has organised a wide range of 20 mph trials. These are just two areas where a change is seriously being considered, with many more trials appearing around the country.


The Difference between 20 and 30 mph

Research reported by RoSPA showed that there was only a 2.5% chance of being fatally injured at 20mph with this figure increasing to 20% at 30 mph, a significant step up. Though there are many designated 20 mph areas across the UK, government ministers and road safety campaigners clearly don’t think there are enough. All 20 mph zones are set up by local councils independent of government advice and are often areas surrounding schools.

Road traffic accidents increase steeply when there are a large amount of pedestrians as well as vehicles and bicycles.  The pressure on the driver to focus on different hazards is increased and this is something which can be tackled in part with a lower speed limit. Driving at 20mph has benefits for all different types of traffic, allowing all road users and pedestrians can feel safe whilst out and about.

At Lamb & Co. we regularly represent clients who have been involved in road traffic accidents in all different kinds of area. Busy urban streets are amongst the most common areas where accidents take place. Negligent drivers can cause even more damage and trauma when driving at 30mph than 20mph.