The speed limit on your roads could be changing to 20pmh – for a very good reason.Fri, 23/06/2017
Speed limits are in place to keep our roads safe, and they’re set depending on the road circumstances. This means that built up, residential areas have speed limits to reflect the increased number of pedestrians.
Emma Munbodh, The Mirror, reports:
Hundreds of Britain's streets could soon have their speed limits reduced to 20 miles per hour, as part of a new three-year investigation into road accidents and driving in built-up areas.
Academics at Edinburgh University are looking at the impact of driving at the National Speed Limit in residential and congested areas, to test the theory that traffic accidents and injuries fall when vehicles drive at slower speeds.
The project is currently being piloted in Edinburgh and Belfast, where limits on some roads have been cut by 10mph.
In three years' time the results will be revealed and, if the theory is proved correct, it could be rolled out nationwide.
The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy has teamed up with the university and will publish the findings in 2020.
It says once collated, the data will be used to advise other UK cities about best practices for cutting speed limits and the benefits of it.
The main focus will be on road safety, with traffic collision, injury and fatality rates compared before and after the reduction of the speed limit.
But the study will also review the impact 20mph limits will have on the number of people who choose to walk and cycle instead of drive, reducing the emissions outputs that are currently considered excessive in UK inner-city zones.
Dr Ruth Jepson, from the university’s Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics , said: “We are excited to launch this major project, which we hope will provide very important insights into the public health effects of such initiatives.
"We anticipate that our broad focus will generate a wealth of evidence and learning that will be invaluable for informing future roll-outs of similar schemes in the UK and around the world."
The study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and involves partnerships with other UK universities, NHS Health Scotland, and the charity Sustrans.
Andy Cope, Director of Insight, Research and Monitoring at Sustrans, added: "This study will provide vital intelligence on the impact of 20mph speed limits on safety and levels of physical activity. We await its findings with key interest."
In April this year, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) published a road safety report that showed just how many pedestrian casualties occur in built up areas.
The document said 20 of the 25 child pedestrians, and 288 of the 383 adult pedestrians who were killed in 2015, died on busy 30mph roads.
More recently, Wandsworth Council in South London announced plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all residential streets across the borough by mid-2017.
A report said: "A 20mph zone is designed as a self-enforcing speed limit by physically changing the road environment by installing traffic calming measures; every street over 50m long within a 20mph zone needs to have traffic calming.
"Such schemes are relatively expensive to implement, which is why only a few were being installed every year in response to resident representations and monitoring of traffic speeds and accidents."
Will it save money as well as lives?
According to breakdown provider AA, driving at a slower speed could technically save drivers money - although frequent braking and accelerating - as is often the case in city centres - could end up costing you more.
An AA spokesman said: "It very much depends on the fuel, car, driving style and gear chosen.
"Though in principle the slower you can go with the engine running smoothly and without choosing an unnecessarily low gear, the better your economy should be."
The RAC adds that there are some options drivers should consider to keep their costs at a minimum.
A spokesman told Mirror Money: "Driving more slowly doesn’t necessarily equate to a financial saving for drivers – it’s about driving in most appropriate gear for the conditions.
"Driving in too low a gear, for instance, means your car revs and emits more – meaning it’s costing you more too.
"Local traffic congestion also plays a big part – clogged roads mean drivers are stuck in lower gears, which is bad for the environment and bad for the wallet too."
In theory, the slower the car, the safer the roads. It’s important to remember that a slower speed doesn’t necessarily mean safer roads, as the driver still needs to be vigilant, careful and attentive when behind the wheel.