Our Saturday independent columnist Observer considers the value of 20mph speed limits.
Speed limits – particularly 20mph – has long been a subject for debate. Do they work?
A report on Friday said there was insufficient evidence to show that the limit had led to a significant reduction in crashes and casualties.
The news is particularly pertinent in Uckfield where we have a 20mph limit along the High Street and a town council which actively seeks to spread 20mph zones into residential areas.
A reduction in crashes, casualties and general road safety is, however, only one part of the story.
Drivers have slowed down
The report says large numbers of motorists will drive above the limit but they have slowed down.
In our own High Street, the slower speed helps make for a better environment for shoppers, who do not want cars and vans whizzing by.
Sometimes, of course, drivers lose the plot, including one I saw the other week overtake on a Pelican crossing, roar north and then jump the red light at Church Street. The white van man obviously had an urgent delivery to make.
In my view, appropriate 20mph limits have important advantages:
- Quality of life for pedestrians and people living in residential areas is improved;
- Cyclists will feel safer; and
- The limit should be 20mph outside all schools at time when children are arriving and leaving.
The report also indicates that 20mph limits v 30mph limits does not overly extend journey times.
Sticking to the limit
People will always raise the matter of enforcement but it should not be used to deflect attention from the main issue. Most drivers WILL obey the limits which will have been imposed after careful consideration by highways authorities.
The threat of random enforcement is always there and will be a deterrent to most.
I particularly liked a comment from the AA which suggests more use of variable speed limits should be made.
The concept is now common on motorways and more use should be made on other roads.
Saturday morning shoppers will appreciate a 20mph speed limit in Uckfield High Street – but a 30mph limit would surely be OK between say midnight and 6am on any day of the week.
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