Most drivers guilty of ignoring 20mph speed limits

Road showing 20mph speed limit

A national study carried out by The Department for Transport (DfT) has found that 81% of drivers broke 20mph limits in place at nine sites in 2016.  

The study recorded 15% of drivers speeding at more than 30mph and 1% driving at over 40mph in the 20mph speed zones.

These figures were compiled using traffic counters in place on the roads but are in conflict with recent research carried out by Brake, the road safety charity, poll which indicated 52% of drivers broke the 20mph speed limit.

In Edinburgh, the new 20mph speed limit began to be introduced on 31st July 2016, and is to be rolled out across the city in six phases. The 20mph speed limit is now in place in the city centre, rural west and the north and south of the city. The final phase will be in place by 31st January 2018.

20mph zone can save lives

The biggest benefit of the new 20mph speed limit is that it could potentially save lives and reduce the risk of serious injury from traffic collisions. Figures show that survival rates are 7 times higher when a pedestrian is hit by a car driven at 20 mph compared to 30 mph.

A DfT spokesman said: “Research shows that 20mph zones in the right areas can save lives and we have made it easier for councils to introduce them.

"It is for councils to set speed limits in their area and police to decide how best to enforce them.”

20mph speed limits won’t work if people don’t want them

There have been some calls recently for a blanket 20mph speed limit to be introduced across Scotland.  These calls focused not on road safety, but the fact that key Scottish roads are breaching EU legal safety standards.  It is estimated that around 15,000 people die in Scotland every year due to the effects of air pollution. 

Motoring organisations have stated that the 20mph limit should only be brought in when they are supported by local communities. They advised that many local people were not being asked before the limit was lowered.

Without people really wanting the 20mph, will drivers really adhere to the limit?

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA, was quoted in recent press reports: “The target is to get people driving below 30mph in these areas.

“That’s what the 20mph limit is clearly for, and in that sense as far as we’re concerned it’s working.”

“The problem is a knee-jerk reaction to have these zones everywhere

“If local residents want them, they should get them, but the big question is whether they are being consulted.

“If they’re not being consulted you’re not going to get adherence.”

Edinburgh drivers debate the 20mph zones

This is very topical debate in Edinburgh. The Evening News asked their readers to have their say on the 20mph speed limit in place already in Edinburgh. Many are quoted agreeing these should be in place in residential areas and near schools, but that it didn’t make sense to have in city centre locations or main roads.

Thomas Monkhouse, an Evening News reader, said: “I’m all in favour of 20mph outside schools and in local streets but how many children play in Regent Road, or Haymarket or South Bridge or Leith Walk? 20mph is counter-productive to reducing emissions as engines can’t run at an optimum speed, the engines are choking to get to the most efficient gear”.

The success of the 20mph limit is being examined by the University of Edinburgh. They will be researching whether there has been a decrease in serious and fatal injuries in the areas the lower limit has been in place. However, if drivers ignore the speed limit and drive faster in these areas, results are unlikely to look promising.