A report for the Department for Transport has concluded that 20mph zones have made no impact on road safety and that drivers have reduced their speed by just 0.7mph within those zones.
The study has been carried out over four years, in twelve different areas. One of the main findings is that up to 94% of drivers break the speed limit if they usually drove above 24mph before the 20mph zone was introduced.
Before we jump on the revenue-raising bandwagon, which undoubtedly will be an issue, a close look at the report will perhaps reveal a more political nature to the introduction of 20mph zones.
While there is an argument for road safety, there are three main factors in the decision for a 20mph zone; these are broken down as: transport related, community or politically driven, and health-related. Within these three categories are three weak answers – to reduce the negative impact of cars in urban centres (such as parking space pressures and congestion), a low-cost way to ‘improve’ the lives of residents, and as a way to tackle the perceived quality of the environment.
It would seem that road safety was the intended by-product, rather than the driving force behind implementation.
Twelve areas took part in the study, including parts of Winchester, Liverpool, Brighton, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, where data could be collected before and after implementation of the 20mph zone. The cost for each zone ranged from £10,000 through to £1.7m and focused solely on zones with no other traffic calming measures such as chicanes, speed humps or directional rights of way.
It was found that typically, drivers ignored the signage, believing that the risk of being caught speeding was minimal, which led to just a 0.7mph reduction in speeding through the zone, with an overall reduction of 0.9mph in the surrounding areas approaching the zone. 47% of drivers admitted to regularly breaking the 20mph limit, that figure increased to 94% of drivers where the road was previously faster than an average of 24mph.
Edmund King, president of the AA, says: “We believe that targeted 20mph limits work best where they’re needed – outside schools or hospitals, or places where other vulnerable road users may be encountered. Speed limits need to reflect the nature of the road, and this report has vindicated the reservations of motorists with regard to 20mph zones”.
Within the study, it was found that the biggest contributing factor to an accident was ‘failure to observe’, either as a pedestrian (17%) or motorist (37%), but the lower speeds should mean that a road user has more time to react to an incident – which in theory means a lessened chance of injury.
However, it’s that very reason that could also cause a problem – with road users having more time to react, it seems that complacency is increasing. Further still, and perhaps the biggest takeaway from the study is that there is a small amount of evidence that shows an increase in driver frustration and distraction.
The frustration part is purely from learned behaviour – that can change with time, but the distraction part could be down to the need for constant checking of the speedometer; ensuring that you’re driving below a 20mph limit takes concentration and a certain amount of skill, and with the influx of silent-running electric vehicles, that could be made worse – there will be no engine note as guidance.
With no significant change in accident rates, and no benefit to the environment, can the local authorities justifiably continue to spend the amount of money required to create such folly? It would seem that these 20mph zones are now purely about the perceived perception of a neighbourhood, rather than offering any benefit whatsoever, and in a time when councils are going bust, surely the money is better spent elsewhere?
Of course, there is always a need to back causes that improve road safety, including reduced speed limits where there is proven benefit, but an inappropriate blanket 20mph zone isn’t that. Perhaps we should be thankful that currently, many of these reduced speed zones aren’t enforced with speed cameras as a simple money-making hotspot, but the cynics amongst us would ask how long it will be before that happens?
What do you think of this latest report? Are the findings a revelation? Or just as you’ve suspected all along? Will local authorities view them as a quick way to raise revenue? Let us know in the comments.
Because no one sticks to speed limits, we need to abandon them. What a ridiculous argument! Because of increasing knife crime in London, should we also say it’s ok to carry knives. Take some responsibility. If unable to control a car at 20mph, they shouldn’t be driving.
Why is that commented voted down, I wonder. Could it be that too many people have taken the first sentence seriously? Mal isn’t saying that speed limits should be abandoned, and proves this by saying that it’s a ridiculous argument. If you can’t read intelligently, please don’t get involved.
The way the above text is worded is very biased against the 20mph zones, rather than being a neutral report. I believe that carefully targeted 20mph zones are a good idea but they are a complete waste of time without enforcement. Too many drivers couldn’t care less about the safety of children, we see drivers coming along our 20mph road at 40mph and 50mph even when there are crowds of children coming in or out of school. Taxis seem to be some of the worst offenders. Other drivers seem to be so incompetent they are unable to control their car well enough to manage to drive at 20mph. When I drive along our road at 20mph, I often get tailgated by other impatient and inconsiderate drivers. However, I do agree that large blanket 20mph areas, including major arteries, are not a good idea and even less likely to be respected.
Agreed with all points. I do observe 20 limits and have no difficulty maintaining that speed without checking the speedometer as my experience give me a good sense of speed and my satnav warns me if I exceed as well.
If your so experienced why do you get a warning from your satnav?
20mph zones would have far greater acceptance if they were targeted. Blanket zones are ineffective unless there is a clear and understandable reason for them. Residential roads are far clearer near me now that many drivers park on the pavement (rightly or wrongly) so a 20mph limit is impractical.
Speed limits are for the most part are a complete waste of time. I would abolish the lot of them. The vast majority of drivers drive at a speed comensurate with prevailing road, weather and traffic conditions. While human reaction time is a factor one must not discount the efficiency of modern cars with regard to braking systems.
What a load of rubbish. You shouldn’t be on the road with an attitude like that
If you truly believe that statement, I don’t think you have thought it through in any great detail. The UK motorway/dual carriageway speed limit for cars is as you know 70 mph. On any given day, in pretty much any given conditions, there will be a steady stream of cars, all too often travelling too close to one another at speeds between 85 and 95 mph.
This is clearly over the current speed limit but not excessively so because psychologically it’s still sort of within the realms of the speed limit and also under the triple digit 100 mph. If there was no speed limit, a significant number of the steady stream of 85-95ers will be up to 110-120mph, especially the ‘business travellers’ racking up many miles a week; one to get everywhere in a rush as is the norm nowadays and two for the conversations in the hotel bars with fellow travellers in the evening. “Yeah, did Bristol to Birmingham in an hour early Wednesday morning, had an Audi A4 stay with me for 50 miles but I maxed her at Cheltenham and left him standing”. With our nations propensity for tailgating and middle lane hoggers distaste for using mirrors and believing a short burst of the indicator affords them safe passage into the outside lane, pile-ups would most certainly increase don’t you think.
The newer drivers who think they are Lewis Hamilton’s spiritual twin, will without doubt, be hooning around towns in their tarted up Honda Civics, Vauxhall Corsas and the like in excess of 60mph, safe in the knowledge that they are not going to get flashed by a speed camera. It’s pretty much down to human nature especially for a significant number of the population. Even more so now I think; I hadn’t heard of the Nordschliffe as a kid growing up, it’s now somewhat of a Mecca for petrol heads with many manufacturers using it to show how fast their sporty cars are. With that sort of mindset, no speed limits and reasonably poor driving standards, a recipe for disaster would quickly ensue.
My nephew got a new Focus ST this year and when travelling over to Germany definitely found out the car’s top speed, which he certainly wouldn’t have done in the UK.
Too many British drivers haven’t got the discipline or awareness to safely negotiate Autobahn speeds, including the ones not travelling at speed but oblivious to what’s happening around them.
Too many youthful drivers as well as angry motorists haven’t got the respect for fellow man to have no speed limits anywhere.
Many speed limits need updating as they were set decades ago when cars, drivers and road layouts were all very different.
Some areas, like dangerous bends, outside schools and hospitals should be cut to 20mph during necessary hours, but should it be the same at 10.30pm? Of course not.
And how many (non-speed limited) vehicles on motorways stay under the 70mph limit? I’d suggest less than half. Driving at 75mph or 80mph does not increase the likelihood of accidents on these roads, so the speed limit on motorways should be increased.
I’m pretty sure the large majority of drivers would be more respectful of speed limits if they were justified. But sticking them in because a NIMBY doesn’t like the road noise, or an ecowarrior has found one co-warrior willing to write a report against cars only makes drivers less respectful of them.
Well said CityGent, my points were made in response to William stating he would abolish every single speed limit which I do believe is completely nonsensical.
I agree that driving at 75-80mph on a motorway in good conditions, with good awareness and leaving an appropriate gap is perfectly acceptable and indeed, if driving sensibly, one would be unlikely to be pulled over by a traffic officer.
My only thought is; does the current limit of 70 have a bearing on the self imposed speed limit of 75-80 and would increasing it to 80mph inturn affect drivers self imposed limit, or in time would that creep up as well?
20MPH zones do not work because there is no policing of the area. Most drivers ignore them UNLESS there are speed cameras working. Unlikely local authorities would spend money on such equipment.
Where I live the 20mph limits are not enforced by the police or otherwise. They have no impact on driver behaviour because of it, and have become a laughing stock.
Certainly not a revenue generator, which I don’t believe anyway, more a waste of money.
I agree with the comment in the report that in the right places they are necessary, but they have to be policed.
However, if removed the required 30mph in built up areas also need policing. There are many vehicles that travel 40mph upwards in these 20mph and 30mph areas, it is lethal.
And cars that observe these limits are overtaken, or given rudeness for not go8n fast enough. Even more dangerous….
Be good skilled drivers, if there is a sign, whatever that sign maybe, acknowledge it and take the correct course of action. If we follow the rules of the road as set in the highway code, I mean all road users including pedestrians and cyclists that is the way to make roads safer, and make driving a pleasurable experience. I agree speed itself does not kill, its the competence of the driver to impliment a stop at high speed without causing an accident. As we see with increases in collisions impatience is the big killer, have to be that one car length in front, I can ignore red lights, those are the killer drivers.
Mal which part of 20 limits have made no difference to safety are you struggling with? Total waste of money imho.
Targeted zones in residential or school areas make some sense. But blanket zones on major through routes and bus routes is just unnecesary, London seems really bad at this. I would argue, from experience, that it’s far more dangerous for cyclists who travel around 15-20mph and cannot be passed with ease.
The average speed for cycling is about 10 mph, you`d have to be quite fit to cycle constantly at 15-20mph! Also your remark just reinforces the need for proper, segregated cycle lanes – such as in many other countries, even the USA where car is king!
Nonsense. where did you get that average? google maps??? The speed will vary between 5mph and 25 mph for an averagely fit cyclist depending on the gradient.
Well Mr Powell you mustn’t have travelled round my neck of the woods yet, these lacra louts manage to ride at 20-25 mph for miles on their expensive race bikes, an were not talking about young kids either! Mr wiggins lived up the street an was a regular pain in the a**e with his gang of push irons thinking they own the country side!
Don’t get me started on cyclists!
They CAUSE far too many accidents and us motorists have no recourse because those on pushbike don’t have insurance so we end up having to fork out for damage they inflict when they scrape past us at traffic lights, etc.
It’s time a law was passed making cyclists have insurance!
Personally I think the 20 MPH should be scrapped, normally it is not the driver sticking to the 20 MPH its the one behind tailgating wich causes the hazard .infact you are constantly watching you speed dial ,so i think is is dangerous .By the way this is my view .
If vehicles travel at under 20 mph through areas, it is recommended to engage second gear for some vehicles. Does this not significantly increase pollution?
If it is not safe to travel over 20mph, isn’t a possible small, but not proved increase in pollution worth it?
Not when the governments of the EU including UK are being taken to court over emissions….how are they going to achieve this 20mph limits and emissions ho hand in hand.
The point at which a car produces most pollutants is when it accelerates. So causing a car to slow down and then inevitably accelarate causes an increase in pollution. This has been shown to be in excess of ten times the normal quantities and it is these pollutants that causes learning difficulties in children. Therefore we make all the traffic slow down and then speed up in response to a few drivers that are driving faster than acceptable and effectively poison all the children in that area. (And I haven’t even started on teaching children road safety)
It’s possible to drive constantly at 20mph. I see most drivers accelerate and brake hard in the 20mph zone rather than slowly cruising along.
Yes. As does traffic calming chicanes as stopping and starting/acceleration uses more fuel.
While on the face of it I believe that these 20 mph zones seem a good thing, it seems to me that most are lacking a bit of common sense in that some need to be time specific (e.g. out side schools) when the traffic carmine is only needed at certain times and not others (e.g. when the school is closed). Also, if the need seems not to be there, over exaggerated and/or not in-forced the tendency, right or wrong, is to ignore it.
Additionally, there seems to be another speed reduction which seems to be taking place where major A Road dual carriage ways, once running at 40mph, have been dropped to 30mph. Although advertised, the local signage is limited which has occurred on the A38 through the south of Birmingham. The fact that there are a number of speed cameras installed along the stretch in question which have been there for many years I am expecting them to be re-activated at any time purely in the interests of public safety of course.
It seems to me that a number of the most serious accidents are the result of Poor driving skills, Excessive Speed or under the influence of something all of which are unaffected by speed limits either because poor training, illegal driving or just don’t care about others. And if, as often stated it is all about ensuring we all keep to the speed limit and reduce accidents then surely it would make more sense to install average speed cameras but this would reduce income and the need for speed.
Poor old driver having to constantly check the speedometer in 20mph zones when apparently they don’t need to for 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70mph zones.
Hitting someone at 20mph is much less likely to kill them.
Blaming the pedestrian for being on the road assumes they have less right to be there than cars. Until the driver gets out and becomes a pedestrian!
In Edinburgh on most journeys that I take there are many switches between roads with 20 limits and roads with 30. It is a tremendous distraction having to work out what the current limit is. It would be much better to concentrate on pedestrians and hazards on the road rather than having to ply i-spy with speed limit signs. This is an particular problem when it is dark where concentration really should be on the road ahead
Simple answer – keep your eyes on the speedo ALL the time and look at the road occasionally once certain that your speed has not increased by a couple of mph and is now exceeding the limit you didn’t see because you were too busy looking at the speedo.
The Highway Code saying keep your eyes on the road at all times has become obsolete.
It is the same with signage – far too much at times. Again the more time spent looking at signs and the speedo, the less time can be spent looking after people that should be looking after themselves.
Pedestrians can stand on the kerb and look at signs for as long as they like. Drivers must do so while driving – and often looking out for the small minority of road users that neither have the time nor inclination to read and observe relevant signs. They can occur anywhere and at any time.
Pavements are for pedestrians, roads are for cars. Cars are not allowed to drive on pavements, pedestrians should not have the right to be on the road except at designated crossing points, or they are responsible for their own safety.
People are forgetting about cyclists. In a safe and well designed urban environment, 12 year old children should be able to cycle to school safely on the roads. That’s the aim. Sadly I wouldn’t dream of letting letting my kids cycle. People are just too selfish and too self obsessed about catering to their own motoring needs. But as they do so, perhaps they should spare a thought for their own children, whose lung capacities they could be reducing with the pollution they are creating. And their own children who may be the ones to have their lives endangered by people who don’t think they have the right to cross the road unless they are at a traffic light or zebra crossing.
It is no less safe to cycle to school now than it was 30 years ago when I was at school. The problem now is over-protective parents, who then add to the problem, because they feel they need to protect Little Jonny by driving them in a 4×4 (“because it’s safer”), increasing the traffic, often parking in an inconvenient place (“but it’s only for a few minutes”), affecting the traffic flow again, and then crossing wherever it suits them, often despite there being a proper crossing within 50 yards.
Too much selfishness, and too much mollycoddling of children.
That’s what pavements and crossings are for…
Speed does not kill, it is dangerous driving that does.
Dangerous driving, like driving too fast?
Speed can be a factor in heavy built up areas but it’s not a given that it is the most contributing factor like the other person said lack of concentrating and or not being able to gauge on coming traffic most accidents do not have speed as the most contributing factor
In my residential area of suburban London with parking on both sides of the thoroughfare – even where partial pavement parking is permitted – you would be hard pressed to get up to any speed over 20mph. The impressive 20mph repeater signs every 100 metres are as irrelevant as they were costly to install.
From speaking with a police accident investigator just last week, it seems the largest factor (by a long way) in accidents is inattentiveness.
The moniker of “speed kills” is like saying “guns don’t kill people…”. Of course, no guns means no gun-related deaths. And no speed (no vehicles) means no vehicle-related deaths. But as that’s unreasonable, then we have to accept that any speed could present a risk, but primarily if inappropriate to the circumstances (hazards, driver’s competence etc.). Perhaps we should say, “inappropriate speed can lead to an accident”, but not quite as catchy….
Actually, Adam, the highway code says that the speed limit is a maximum, where conditions permit. As such, it’s seldom we should be driving at the speed limit. So you are quite correct. The problem is that while the vast majority of good drivers will agree with you, the ever-present minority of idiot drivers will never care what signs we put up nor what rules we have. The only way to tackle dangerous drivers is to enforce the law and hit them where it hurts.
Or not concentrating, ie talking, on a mobile, distracted . There’s a blanket 20 mph limit down our high street – yes, people go over, but most of the problems are people not paying attention, saw one driver trying to turn right round a roundabout on their phone, numerous pedestrians on their phones just walking out into the road without looking.
Modern brakes and anti collision systems help with the speed, but not if you’re not paying attention.
Modern brakes, airbags, and a host of driver safety systems have made things much worse. In the 1960s and 1970s an accident was something serious to the driver. While today, we watch a winter TV report of some idiot whose car slid off the ice and snow covered road, flipping end over end down an embankment and depositing them in a frozen river. Do they think they’re to blame for continuing to drive at 60mph despite the conditions? No. They actually think they’re the innocent victim.
People have become complacent with all the safety gadgets built into cars these days. However, I know people might say that this is a silly statement & perhaps it is, but just think about it for one second, instead of an airbag with a collapsible steering column, we had a fixed column with a six inch spike sticking out from it with NO seat belts, it would concentrate the mind fully on what’s happening in front of the driver. I have a 1963 Rover 100 which is just like that, the only thing missing is the spike & it DOES make me very aware of what’s going on around me.
Pedestrians on thier phone or with headphones on and looking at thier phones (watching videos!!!) are a major hazard not just to themselves but to driver who have to avoid them, but the law only applies to drivers. I’m not usually one for promoting American ideas, but there Jay-walking as it’s called does carry substantial penalties – amybe we should think about that in the UK?
have to agree with this, we all have a duty of care, you dont see wing mirrors on bikes, yet they pull out with out looking, same with pedestrians, head phones on and looking at their phone and not at the road, do they still do road safety awareness at schools, quick question seem to remeber you could only go on the road with a certain size wheel on a bike, and the same with the kerb,
I think we’ve gone beyond having someone carry a red flag in front of a vehicle.
As the mayor would say 20 is plenty 15 is better still even 10n mph maybe we should bring back the man/woman with the red flag or as Sadiq Khan would like we all go by bus or bike
But just think how many jobs would be created just making the flags!!
The safest road in the UK are the Motorways, speed is only dangerous when the prevailing conditions make it so. You can drive dangerously at 20 mph.
Do you mean dangerous driving or exceeding the speed limit? Most of the time the two aren’t linked. If you don’t believe me look at the statistics.
Driving too fast in the wrong area
Too fast is dangerous, but that does not necessarily mean exceeding stupid and inconsistent speed limits.
….and pedestrians that walk in front of cars without looking.
I would back speed cameras on my road ….or Speed bumps ….(Dene Road Didsbury….Manchester…….) it is a cut through used to by pass Didsbury village , ……cars often breach 40/50mph …..it’s a wide road , but residential, …..in the past walls have been smashed into whilst turning onto Spath Road where there is a near 90 degree corner
As a pedestrian I would appreciate them in local estates but they must include enforcement. In 30mph zones you see 33-37mph. 20mph zones at least keep drivers down to about.27-8mph.
In Jersey [Channel Islands] there are part time 20mph zones outside schools. I suspect they will produce more respect for the limit as they only apply when there is a good reason. Blanket 20mph zones will never be respected as there is no good reason for them. Long ago the then government passed a law that said a man with a red flag must walk in front of the horseless carriages of the day. In the end that law was abolished & hopefully so too will all these blanket 20mph zones. Nobody can stay below 20mph when the road conditions allow a faster speed, without constantly monitoring the speedometer; the safest way to drive is with your eyes on the road ahead & at an appropriate speed for the road conditions; not driving to an arbitrary number that ignores actual road conditions. Time they trusted us to drive safely & only punish those who clearly do not.
Locally it is almost impossible to reach 20 mph outside schools. The biggest road safety we have is the school run where parent open doors to let their children out onto the carriage way rather than the pavement, double park, park on the pavement blocking it, stop in the middle of the road to talk to a mate etc.
Sadly, it is much easier to raise money from penalising good drivers who exceed arbitrary and inconsistent speed limits than prosecuting bad/inconsiderate/incompetent drivers who should be taken off the road. As you say, a good driver drives according to the conditions, traffic/weather/vehicle, and not looking constantly at the speedo to ensure they are not going to be fined fo drifting over the “speed limits”.
A good driver should also think about driving in residential areas where the extra speed is a nuisance to people living in these areas. The 20mph is indeed usually where people live. Higher speeds are an welcome threat to cyclists and pedestrians even if the driver feels they are driving safely. I am also less disturbed in my home by drivers outside keeping their speed low rather than accelerating past our house like most driver inconsiderately do even though they probably believe they are driving safely!! The noise is also a nuisance don;t forget!!!
I have not read the DoT report – and it seems that Jamie Rogers may have been quite selective in his article . He states the report claims ” 20mph zones have made no impact on road safety”.
There is a whole paragraph on Speed Kills in the article.
What surprises me is that there is no analysis of the accident rates,assessment of severity, proportion of pedestrians/cyclists/motor cyclists.moving vehicles ( of different types and sizes ) and whether there is a difference in these ratios or proportions when a 20 mph zone is introduced.
Similarly – there is no breakdown of the severity of injuries caused from accidents in 20 mph zones – and have they changed since moving from a 30mph to 20 mph limit.
Minor injuries , severe injuries ( requiring hospitalisation ) life changing injuries and deaths – to me these are the things that need to be analsed and presented rather than a blanket ” no impact on road safety ”
I will have a look at the Report itself – as I would be surprised if there is more data available on this therein.
Frankly – there are some remarks already posted that make me wonder whether these posters have an acceptable mindset and attitude to safety and should consider whether they should be driving at all.
Wake up – it could be your relative or child who is involved in an accident in a 20 mph zone . Does that have to happen before you think differently about speed limits ?
If your child was involved in an accident in a 20mph zone, with a car that was travelling at 20mph, would you then want the limit reduced to 10mph? Or cars banned from that road completely?
Cars are dangerous machines, but we have to have a balance between an acceptable level of risk and eliminating all risk.
No one ever produces data on how many accidents outside schools are caused by kids running out due to lack of supervision by parents. If they did and there was the same type of reaction to cars, parents would be banned from looking after kids on pavements!
I live in Islington which has a 20mph limit throughout the borough. I try to drive at 20mph but this is difficult and does take concentration. Some while ago I joined the police who were doing a spot check on drivers. 61 drivers were stopped, all were exceeding the speed limit and the majority claimed they didn’t realise there was a 20mph limit – despite signage. Council vehicles, buses and even cyclists exceed the limit. The limit should be applied in areas that are meaningful – outside schools hospitals and residential side roads.
Changing to 3rd gear, or 2nd in an auto, will make it much easier, also the engine revs will put the engine in a more economical, environmentally acceptable range. Try to drive at approximately 1800 to 2000rpm. You can get an app for it, connected via an OSB plug-in, or have a small rev counter installed.
The fact that you are concentrating better will make it less likely for you to have an
I totally agree with 20mph is needed at specific points.
Brighton has gone overboard though, as the town is very hilly, you see lorries chugging up them trying to stay at
the speed limit, surely this is causing more pollution and using more fuel.
No, it is not sure that it is causing more pollution.
Quite correct, I too live in Brighton /Hove and the measures introduced during the ‘Green’ council cause untold congestion and pollution, not to mention being positively dangerous in parts.
I agree that there are some areas of Brighton where 20 seems a bit too slow but for the distance travelled it only makes the journey a couple of minutes more, say from the Sainsbury gyratory to Coldean Lane. I have not seen
lorries chugging up them..hills, unless they`re on e.g. Elm Grove, if they are they need to change down a gear!
I would ask, is there any evidence to support speed restrictions having any benefit for the environment? Because it’s my belief, that if you slow vehicles down you will inevitable have a greater concentration of vehicles in the area over a longer period of time, surely the claimed environmental benefit doesn’t hold water?
The local council changed the speed limit on the seafront from 30MPH to 20MPH after it being 30 for 50 years. The worst thing was I didn’t notice the change in limit and was caught doing 30mph at 4:30AM. Fined £60 & 3 points. The sea front was empty. Surly this just shows its all about the money and not safety and some common sense approach should have been applied.
If it was about safety they should have provided some evidence to support.
That’s my point entirely, it’s so easy to catch a good, competent driver speeding than to catch a bad, incompetent driver who either has accidents or causes others to have accidents. Let’s have periodic testing for all, say every 5 years up to the age of 70, 3 years up to 80 and every year after 80. I am 72 and think I am a half decent driver i.e have not had an accident in over 50 years, I have driven over one million miles in all sorts of vehicles – mostly exceeding the speed limit when it is safe to do so, however, if I was judged to be incompetent, I would accept that. I see far too many incompetent drivers who should clearly not be behind the wheel.
Politics should not interfere with the roads. any speed limit should be based on scientific evidence ONLY and not on political preferences. speed limits which are not justified by road conditions will be ignored and these incompetent politically driven id…ts who set them should be sacked!
Suspicion confirmed. Not only is 20mph frustrating but crawling around in 3rd or 2nd gear only adds to engine speeds and thus emissions. Totally agree with above regarding having these zone, where needed only, such as outside schools & hospitals
I bet that Edinburgh District Council, which has a policy of hating cars, will refuse to back down in the face of any evidence that 20mph zones are ineffective, even if drivers generally stick to them. I believe this limit is, and has been, applied inappropriately in places where the old 30mph limit was no less safe, leading to the frustration and distraction that the article talks about, heightening danger rather than lessening it. And unnecessary 20mph limits increase pollution levels as well because cars have to drive in lower gear to drive at that speed. I also believe that roads have a “natural” speed limit that varies depending on weather, time of day, traffic conditions and pedestrian behaviour. In city centres, for example, 20mph or less is a natural speed limit because of traffic density and “good”, responsible drivers should be able to use fixed speed limits as advisory rather than something they can be penalised simply for breaking. If they exceed the limit and cause damage or injury, then they can be punished. I have seen any number of bad drivers who drive dangerously above the fixed speed limit, so fixed speed limits are no preventer of this behaviour. Abolish fixed 20mph limits except where they are genuinely beneficial – outside schools, hospitals, old folks homes, etc. And allow traffic to find its natural speed elsewhere with advisory or variable limits, which should improve traffic flow and reduce pollution.
A very sound comment and applies equally to Brighton and Hove where most of the blanket limits are unnecessary, obstructive and add greatly to congestion and pollution.
There is also nonsense spoken about lower pollution levels at 20mph. If you’re driving around in 2nd and 3rd gears you are using more fuel, therefore there is more pollution. What don’t they understand about that?
They don’t understand, thats why they’re politicians…who listen to and take the advice of unqualified ‘green’ people who would tell you black is white rather than the truth.
I recently attended a “Speed Awareness Course,and one of the Instructors/Teachers?reckoned that 3rd gear at 30mph was ideal!!!(and my comment was”To to hell with the enviroment”)but she was addament that it had been scientificly proven to be correct.yea right!
Why don’t you try it smart ars#, depending on how big your motor is, 3rd gear in town is just right, I used to have a 525 bmw and 3rd gear was the best in town, you can let your foot off to slow without braking for a corner an pull away again without changing gear, did better m.p.g driven this way. Saves your arm an clutch too!
To try to maintain 20mph & avoid exceeding the speed limit, I hold the auto ‘box on my car to 1st & 2nd only. This enables engine braking, but unfortunately also increases engine revs, noise & pollution. Not sure about the safety aspect as most drivers focus on aiming for the middle of the speed cushion & hence less attention will be paid on the surroundings.
Get an electric car and then you won’t need to worry about this
That might be a good idea if an EV meets your driving requirements IE distance you can drive it per charge & can you afford to buy one, I would love to buy an EV but I can`t justify the cost & It will not cover the distance between charges I would require.
I find that using my cruise control set at 20mph is very good for 20mph zones and I realise that not everyone has cruise control. Also speeding per se does not cause accidents, it is inappropriate speed that causes accidents
Cruise control isn’t supposed to work on 3rd gear or lower or below 26mph; but sometimes it does. Speed limiter does though, although it’s a bit fiddly to set up. You perhaps shouldn’t be fiddling when you are in a 20mph danger zone! Third gear is a bit high for 20mph but 2nd is a bit screamy. It’s also easy to lose control in second as it’s so responsive to the throttle.
I’m not surprised at the findings. Our local council gave us 3 options to make a road with 3 schools on it safer. These were permanent 20mph, flashing lights and 20mph at the start and end of the school day or just stay with the traffic calming already in place. I have not seen the results of the survey but everybody I have spoken to all say they voted for 20mph twice in the day, instead we have permanent 20mph on this road making all the surrounding roads much busier and causes increased congestion. 20mph for safety is a complete waste of time.
There’s a road like that near me. The council implemented every possible traffic calming measure. It’s still a very dangerous road, especially when the mothers are dropping off or picking up their brats. All of the rules of the road go out the window. Local police tell me they’re afraid to go near the area at these times. Unbelievably, I once saw a mother overtake a line of cars that were stopped before the zebra crossing, while the lollipop lady escorted children over the zebra crossing. This mother overtook the line of cars, hung a left onto the zebra crossing, and drove on the zebra crossing onto the pavement at the end of the crossing. Everyone on the zebra crossing, including the lollipop lady, had to leap for their lives. Also those standing on the pavement, at the foot of the crossing, were almost run down. This person then calmly extracted her children and walked them across the zebra crossing to the school gates. The car was left blocking the pavement and the end of the crossing. This was all done very calmly and deliberately. It’s not like she was angry or seething in frustration. Just “I want” so I’ll do.
Obviously, this was a very extreme case, and (sadly) in the days before I had a dashcam fitted. But it does illustrate what will happen if people know they can break the law without consequences.
The fact that the majority of motorists can be witnessed paying absolutely NO regard for the 20mph limits has been studiously ignored by my (Chichester) local authority. It seems as though many drivers have in fact decided to even ignore the surrounding 30 mph limit when in a “20’s Plenty” zone. Observations (not something any comfy office based council employee has obviously done) show conclusively that all the signage and road markings costs has been a dreadful waste of our taxes. But I for one am not surprised by their “jobsworth”, regulation driven narrow minded, common senseless approach!
Complete and utter waste of time and money, the number of times myself and my daughter have been overtaken whilst doing 20 is unbelievable, even buses and the emergency services ignore them and I don’t mean when they are on a call out neither. It’s about time they were abolished except around dangerous areas, schools, hospitals etc.
I’ve had vehicles undertaking me in an active bus lane. No incentive to send dashcam evidence to the police as they are too understaffed to go thru the footage.
Annoying as speed humps are, if drivers will not obey 20mph limits they are essential as part of a traffic calming scheme. I say this as a Highway Engineer who has installed several schemes and as a resident in a traffic caimed area.
When hitting a speed bump breaks your suspension spring, you won’t notice while driving inner city at low speed. Then you join the motorway, lose control at high speed and cause an accident, may be a fatal one. Who is to blame, the car driver or the people putting speed bumps everywhere?
I have driven at the 20 mph speed restriction past our local hospital only to have drivers behind me blowing their horns and making offensive hand jestures because of the speed, I think unless the speed restrictions are enforced, they are a waste of time.
I agree that many of the 20mph zones are a waste of time and money. On main roads and many bus routes it is just inappropriate. No doubt the councils will soon think about cameras to enforce limits and increase income. I have said before that with technology the limits near schools can be flexible to suit school hours and school holidays.
20 mph is just another cash cow for relevant authorities and another tool for the anti car/everyone should cycle brigade which is getting out of hand.
I drive a Focus ST with a two litre, turbo charged engine so to drive at 20 mph max. necessitates driving in second gear so the “greens” need to consider what that does to pollution levels!
There’s a very wide road near me and i love observing it’s new 20mph limit as it causes chaos! Most drivers overtake you, blowing their horns, shouting abuse (or worse!) – especially mini-cabs. It is more dangerous now than if the limit had been increased to 40 or even 50.
Also, with the falling price of crude, the oil giants must be over the moon about introducing 20mph speed limits and the decrease in fuel economy this brings. Any savings from cleaner engines must have been wiped-out too, especially in the areas where pollution is particularly bad.
Simplistic solutions, not based on evidence, rarely work.
Perhaps we are so used to using cruise control at higher speeds that we have losing the skill of controlling speed with our right foot. Cruise control does not work at 20 mph where in a low gear a small foot movement creates a large change in speed.
My cruise control does work at 20mph but I don`t use it at that speed.
Mine works from about 10mph
Many years ago a daughter of a friend of mine was walking to school generally have a laugh on the way, one of her friends accidentally pushed her and she slipped off the kerb, was hit by a vehicle and subsequently died!
Children are unpredictable and do these things without thought (it’s part of growing up! ) I personally feel that it’s our responsibility as adults to protect children from some of their actions !
I frequently think of that young girl and as a result I always try to stay at 20 mph where required !
… if those girls were old enough to walk to school without a parent, then they were old enough to know how to behave and the dangers of the road. Just a week ago I saw some kids, around the age of 11, lying in the middle of the road (on the white lines) as a dare – on a very busy road on route to the city!
Just creates more pollution outside the schools
Everyone says, because it is what is expected, is that 20mph limits outside schools are a good idea. I’m not saying aren’t, (though only twice a day,) but I’m sure that I read years ago that the vast majority of accidents involving children occur in areas away from schools and at times outside the normal arriving/leaving times.
IE it is children out and about away from school that tend to be at risk. It would seem that most drivers, believe it or not, do realize the dangers when passing a school in the morning or at kicking out time when there are hundreds of children around.
The reason for accidents is that drivers do not obey the speed limits. FULL STOP. Pedestrians know the speed limits set for these roads which are usually outside schools and high streets where there are lots of pedestrians including children and they expect motorists to obey the law. The slower the speed of traffic the shorter the stopping distance in case of an accident. I observe all 20mph speed limits and have no trouble with this instruction as it’s sole purpose is to reduce serious accidents. Maybe we should introduce speed cameras, not to make money, but to awake the motorist to the fact they are breaking the law and endangering lives.
By the rational of that argument, would you happily obey a 10mph speed limit as this would create an even shorter stopping distance and even less chance of an accident or serious injury. Or would that be over kill and you would only obey because someone made it the law to do so?
Modern cars are far superior to what they were when speed limits were introduced and consequently stopping distances are vastly shorter than they were. As an example; Highway Code stopping distance at 70mph is 315 feet. A modern family car, a standard Vauxhall Insignia can stop from 122mph in the same distance.
I do however believe that 20mph limits have their place on our roads but as said before, in appropriate places at appropriate times.
Also as previously mentioned they do tend to reduce the speed of cars to below 30 in 20mph zones, whereas if they were a 30 limit, a lot if not the majority of motorists would be 33-35mph +, rationalising they are only just over the limit. So, I think it’s a difficult situation for the people legislating; If 20 limits keep most drivers to under 30 and that’s what they wanted to achieve, then they are largely successful.
I guess it depends how many motorists are prosecuted in 20mph zones but are comfortably under 30, to deduce what the actual objective is.
Seems pointless introducing limits that aren’t normally reached anyway. It makes it impossible to overtake cyclists, where it’s only almost impossible to overtake in a thirty! They introduced a 20 zone in a village near me, I asked a local councillor if he could let me know if it produced a reduction in casualties. That was impossible as they weren’t aware of any previous casualties. Do know what’ll happen if they have a casualty!
Driving around Bristol a lot, a very congested city, I have found my journeys to be much more relaxed and it has become much easier to pull out of a side road when the approaching traffic is doing only 20.
Other drivers (of course, I am one of them) also seem to have become much more patient and polite, more likely to give way to others.
It is impatience, inattention and carelessness that causes most collisions as well as inappropriate speed.
It is the loonies that persist in driving impatiently at reckless speeds that force the imposition of blanket limits on drivers incapable of using their judgement to adjust their speed safely according to circumstances.
The city I live in want to make all roads except the main duel carriage ways into 20mph limits and fit speed bumps everywhere which as a driver that has to transport a very disabled mother think is a stupid idea the speed limit will distroy the particle filters in diesel cars and the speed bump will (And already does) damage the suspension on vehicles
Just the councils way to get diesel vehicles off the road 🙂
Targeted 20mph zones make sense but please start teaching children and their parents how to cross roads safely again it don’t matter how slow you are going there is always some that either dont know or deliberately just step out in front of you
…. or shove their twin buggy into the road without properly looking to see if a vehicle is coming – they can’t hear the vehicle because they are listening to their ipod. If you hit that buggy @ 20mph, who would be blamed?
Get a dashcam
I agree that some drivers of powerful big engine cars are frustrated by having to crawl along at 20mph – I have 2 cars a Hyundai i10 and an Astra Excite and am frequently overtaken in my Hyundai when obeying the 20 mph sign. Strangely, it never happens in the Astra! Last week near my house I was driving at 20mph and heard a bump. Stopped to find that a neighbour’s dog had escaped his house and catapulted itself straight into my car. If I’d been going faster, it would be dead! 20mph is good in urban areas.
I understand your sentiment, but the science says if you were going faster the dog would not have got to your car in time to be hit………….
Title is misleading. The report says that the use of SIGNED ONLY 20mph zones don’t make a significant difference. That is primarily because motorists feel that the police are less likely to book in such areas. The police are much more likely to book in 20mph zones which have additional speed reducing features such as traffic calming and those are indeed safer. The answer is to employ sufficient roads policing staff to ensure that all 20moh limits are properly enforced with out the need for traffic calming!
In my area they have both, but it is common for traffic to pass through at speeds between 35 & 50MPH
You can have as many signs as you wish, but getting some drivers to observe is the problem.
I frequently visit an area in Acklam, Middlesbrough, which has a 20mph speed limit on an ENTIRE estate – which is ridiculous. There’s a school on this estate, and if the restriction was applied ONLY in the vicinity of the school then I’m sure that compliance would increase. There is a school in Normanby, Middlesbrough, where there is a PERMANENT 20mph limit, this is often ignored outside of school hours. In neighbouring Stockton there are several 20mph limits outside schools which are only applied, when required, by flashing lights on the signposts. Light controlled 20mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals etc would make sense and would be better observed by drivers. If drivers can see the logic of a speed limit they are more likely to keep to it.
Even a reduction of 0.7mph is an improvement, but for serious improvement we need fines and imprisonment for people who drive too fast.
We simply cannot afford imprisonment. A fine, a ban from driving and the car crushed, as per the Netherlands, would be effective.
There’s a major A road that I travel on quite regularly. As it passes through villages the limit drops to 30 mph. While on the more open stretches,the limit varies between 40 and 50 mph. The MOST DANGEROUS parts of the road are the slower 30 mph stretches, due to IDIOTS TAILGATING in an attempt to force good drivers to drive faster than the speed limit. The 30 stretches are very well signposted, so the tailgating idiots can’t claim they’re unaware of the speed limit and, clearly, tailgating is extremely dangerous.
My point is that we need to have a zero tolerance policy to stop the minority of idiots who cause the majority of the problem.
I’ve lived for extended periods in the UK and in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands the police jump on people who break the speed limit, especially around schools and hospitals. Here in the UK, the criminals are mostly safe from the police.
There’s no point in having laws or setting rules if they’re not enforced by the authorities. That’s the first rule you learn on an officer or teacher training course.
We don’t need 20 mph roads so much as effective policing. If the normal rules of the road were enforced, the idiots would soon lose their driving licences, and get taken off the road, without the costs of ever-more ineffective rules and their warning notices.
We’ve seen the same thing with the UK’s gun and knife laws. It’s always been illegal to shoot or knife someone. Supposedly it’s a life sentence. So what is the point of making gun or knife crime even more illegal, when the criminals don’t care? Is the idiot who tears around residential streets at 50 or 60 mph going to worry about some 20 mph road sign?
More or less what I thought. For me to keep to 20mph would mean grinding along in 2nd gear. One major problem is pedestrians often have no reflective material on them making them almost invisible to drivers particularly in winter. Definitely more polluting.In densely populated streets often you are lucky to average 10mph anyway.