A new report has found that though introducing 20mph speed limits in many areas is the safest option, getting drivers to comply is the most difficult challenge.
The research was carried out by Steer Davies Gleave on behalf of the London Borough of Merton and LEDNet (London Environment Directors’ Network) and shows once again that it’s selfish drivers or thoughtless drivers which are the main cause of safety risks on the road. The research was commissioned to help see how the introduction of 20mph speed limit policies in London could work, as a precursor to further rolling out across the country.
The report showed that history tells us that 20mph zones have been very successful at reducing speeds by creating a calmer traffic atmosphere and giving drivers more of a chance to pay attention to their surroundings and spot hazards. The problem comes, it said, in the limited resources available to enforce these zones and relaxed regulations in many areas signed-only 20mph limits are in place and signs alone are not enough in ensuring vehicle speeds are brought down. The safety benefits seem to be limited without speed bumps, cameras or more innovative road safety technology.
The report’s findings show that the government needs to find other ways to achieve reductions in vehicle speeds, instead of just signed-only areas as this is only a partial solution and more than this, changed driver attitudes is needed. The report actually states that changed driver attitudes is ‘the key to achieving sustained reductions in vehicle speeds’ and we’ve often said that driver awareness and understanding truly is essential to improving the safety on our roads.
Vehicle Speeds and Road Traffic Accidents
In this particular report they found that studies into speed and collision carried out in the past have not been spread over a long enough period and more robust figures and information is needed before a real picture can be seen.
The Transport Statistics for Great Britain show that more than 50% of all road deaths and serious injuries have occurred on roads with 30mph limits and in many of these instances, 20mph limits could be put in place and the EU European Road Safety Observatory also found that that UK has the highest percentage of pedestrian road facilities in Europe.
These are not figures to be proud of and they are figures which may be able to be reduced with the help of more 20mph zones but more than this, its driver understanding and compliance that needs to be worked on. Like this report shows and like road safety charities suggest we need to foster a culture which wants safer roads and is respectful of the 20mph zones which exist, for the safety of both road users and pedestrians.