20 mph Zones are a Waste of Money, or Worse

The Sun Newspaper has reported on the success, or rather failure, of 20 mph area-wide speed limits, to reduce accidents. They have obtained figures from 20 local councils using the Freedom of Information Act where £11 million of taxpayers’ cash was spent on the lower limit. But in some cases, rates of serious accidents (Killed and Serious Injuries – KSIs) have actually gone up they reported.

AA President said that the schemes were a “waste of money”, effectively implying that if the money had been spent on other road safety measures, more lives and serious accidents would have been saved.

Examples the Sun gave were Bath where £804,000 was spent but a 2016 report revealed that the KSI’s went up in 7 out of the 13 zones where speeds were cut, and in Manchester £1.7 million was spent on a heavily criticised scheme while in Hampshire other schemes showed no benefit in terms of accident reduction.

The ABD has of course reported similar problems before including in the City of London where a blanket 20 mph scheme has resulted in more minor injury reports.

20s Plenty founder Rod King called the articles “sloppy journalism” (one also appeared in the Daily Mail on the same subject). 20s Plenty has tried to debunk the reports of a number of local councils on their 20 mph schemes – for example they called the Bath report “biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality”. But anyone who has surveyed all the evidence on such schemes will know that simply putting up signs typically reduces traffic speed by only 1 mph and that can have no significant impact on road casualties. In reality it seems to have the opposite effect in many cases as pedestrians no longer take so much care when crossing the road.

Rod King and 20s Plenty are like all fanatics – they ignore the negative impact of their policies and fail to see the truth. They are blinded in their zeal to reduce speed limits in the false presumption that reducing speeds are the answer to all road safety problems. But cutting road casualties is not as simple as that.

We still await a Government report on a more comprehensive study of 20 mph schemes.

In London, Transport for London (TfL) continue to finance such schemes in local boroughs and must have spent millions to date on them. Another example of unwise policies and reckless expenditure by TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan, plus his predecessors. It is a great pity that money was not spent on road engineering to improve the safety of roads and junctions.

The Mayor actually wants to impose 20 mph speed limits on many major roads in London under his “Vision Zero” road safety plans. UKIP Transport Spokesperson Jill Seymour has challenged TfL to provide undisputed evidence of the justification for such proposals, as reported in the last national ABD Newsletter (OTR). She said “The authorities have strangled the main roads, and made them the most congested and slowest of any city in Europe. London is a mess when it comes to transport…..the London authorities, led by Sadiq Khan, appear to have a vendetta against personal transport and the car, and do everything they possibly can do to discriminate against it”. That’s definitely the truth of the matter.

Roger Lawson

Sun article here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7253694/20-mph-zones-cause-more-deaths/

3 thoughts on “20 mph Zones are a Waste of Money, or Worse”

  1. These councils have blood on their hands. They have squandered scarce road safety funds for no reason other than they thought it might win them a few votes. How many school crossing patrols for example were axed to fund these tin signs? How much vegatation was allowed to grow and obscure vital sightlines at junctions due to a supposed lack of cash?

  2. “Presenting interim findings last March, the research team reported speed reductions of 1.2mph (85th percentile speeds) and 0.7mph (median speeds) after introduction of 20mph limits.”
    This is too small to have any significant safety effect. Without something close to 24/7 enforcement, only tiny changes in actual speeds will result from a 10 mph limit reduction.

    The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (which should be known as the Insurance Institute for Higher Surcharges) just did a study in Boston where the unsigned default limit was reduced from 30 to 25. The 85th speeds before and after were 31.0 mph for a MASSIVE change of 0.0 mph. The mean speeds before and after were 24.8 mph for another MASSIVE change of 0.0 mph. With some tortured (lack of) logic, they concluded there was a 0.3% reduction in the average speeds, or an average reduction of 0.1 mph. Note that 18.2% or 18.1% were above 31.0 mph, making the original 30 limit correct for 85th percentile methods. We were quite pleased to see the study coming from the predatory IIHS group – because it clearly makes our point that speed limits which do not match drivers normal behavior are irrelevant and ineffective.

    James C. Walker, Life Member (US) National Motorists Association, frequent UK visitor to see family in West Yorkshire

  3. Now there are fences and mounds of earth placed to purposely to obscure drivers vision of a junction. presumably to prevent smooth flowing traffic and merging into traffic flows at junctions. These fences and man made earth mounds are intended to encourage drivers to stop to see if anything in coming at the junction, this which increases vehicle emissions and brake dust from braking an accelerating again when it is not necessary. With poor visibility these fences cannot be seen as they are dark green or brown, and give the driver the sense that nothing is coming when it in fact there is, causing a vehicle collision.

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