• How effective are 20mph zones?
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How effective are 20mph zones?

Speed kills - that much we know. The faster you’re travelling in your car, the less time you have to react and the more likely it is that if you do hit someone or something, the results will be exponentially more serious.

Breaking limits

So, here at Big Motoring World we were very interested to read some official Department for Transport research that suggests that as many as eight out of ten UK drivers broke the speed limit in 20mph zones. Interestingly, the research showed that these areas are exactly the places where drivers are most likely to break the limit - and the law. Compare the figures with the considerably lower 53 per cent who break the limit in 30mph zones, and it would suggest that there is a fundamental issue with the way that 20mph restrictions are being imposed. “These statistics indicate that blanket 20mph limits aren’t particularly effective,” says Edmund Kind, AA president. Where they are targeted, like outside schools, these lower limits work because people can see the point of them. But if 20mph limits are simply imposed over a whole area, people just don’t believe in them and it’s no surprise they then fail to comply.”

Putting people at risk

Of the vehicles that were recorded as part of the study, 15 per cent of drivers broke the limit travelling at more than 30mph, while one per cent of drivers were going over 40mph. This is clearly an untenable situation - especially as 20mph zones are designed to protect those who are among the most vulnerable to road traffic accidents – children near schools. So what is the Government doing to look at the situation? It’s clear that they still see the value of 20mph zones, with a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport saying “Research shows that 20mph zones in the right areas can save lives and we have made it easier for councils to introduce them,” - however they are also keenly aware that the situation needs evaluating. With this in mind, the Government are now looking again at how effective the lower limit is, and are planning to then use the data they collect to help local authorities to implement them correctly. We look forward to seeing how this develops.