Official: almost all drivers break 20mph limitsMon, 26/11/2018
Research has found motorists are ten times more likely to break 20mph speed limit zones than 30mph zones.
Hugo Griffiths, Auto Express, reports:
Government figures have revealed 86 per cent of car drivers break 20mph zones, rising to 94 per cent in the small hours of the morning.
An analysis of thousands of vehicles by the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that in 2017, while just nine per cent of car drivers break 60mph limits, those travelling in 20mph zones are nearly 10 times more likely to flout the law, with average cars speeds recorded as being 26mph in the zones.
It’s not just car drivers, either: some 77 per cent of ‘long’ bus drivers and 53 per cent of ‘short’ bus drivers also exceeded 20mph limits last year, as did 75 per cent of HGVs, 84 per cent of LCVs (light commercial vehicles, or vans) and 85 per cent of motorcyclists; the latter’s average speed was 27mph in 20mph zones.
Motorists were far more likely to stick to 30mph limits, but some 52 per cent of car drivers and 54 per cent of motorcyclists still sped in these zones.
Research related to the efficacy of 20mph zones has generated mixed results. An analysis of 20mph zones in London found average speeds reduced by just 1.3mph, for example, while Bath and North East Somerset Council observed an identical reduction, and considered there to be “little in the way of persuasive argument for continuing the [20mph] programme into the future”.
The DfT concedes the nine zones chosen for analysis “may not be typical of most 20mph roads”, and were selected to study how closely drivers stick to the limits when unhindered by traffic-calming measures, and other stimuli that may provoke slower speeds. Even so, over 16,000 vehicles were observed speeding in the zones, and last year a higher proportion of cars broke 20mph limits than in 2015 or 2016.
Yet road safety campaigners are adamant 20mph zones improve safety, citing evidence a 1mph reduction in average speed brings with it a 5 per cent fall in traffic accidents. A major study by the British Medical Journal, meanwhile, concluded road casualties fell by 42 per cent, and the number of children killed or seriously injured dropped by 50 per cent, following the introduction of 20mph limits.
On the motorway, where the DfT monitored over half a million vehicles, 48 per cent of car drivers were observed to be speeding, with 12 per cent exceeding limits by 10mph or more. Some 56 per cent of motorcyclists sped on the motorway, though a higher proportion – 20 per cent – did so by more than 10mph. And just one per cent of HGVs – no doubt reined in by their speed limiters – were observed to be speeding on motorways last year.
The DfT’s annual release of data reveals a largely stable speeding picture over the last seven years, though a higher proportion of cars broke 20mph zones in 2017 than they did in 2015 or 2016. Furthermore, some 94 per cent of car drivers break 20mph limits at 2am, while 98 per cent of motorcyclists were observed to be speeding in the zones at midnight.
The figures also show 34 per cent of drivers fail to maintain a two-second gap between them and the car in front on motorways, with 40 per cent of motorcyclists also guilty of tailgating.
The figures paint a worrying picture if they are an accurate representation of all 20mph zones nationwide. Many such zones are put in place around congested residential areas and schools, so breaking these speed limits could result in a serious road traffic accident.