‘Restrict the 20mph zones’

A 20mph area in Fulwood Hall Lane in Fulwood, Preston
A 20mph area in Fulwood Hall Lane in Fulwood, Preston
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The rush towards blanket 20mph speed restriction in towns and cities needs to slow down, according to research from the AA.

More than two-thirds of AA members want a say before a 20mph speed limit is imposed along their street and 55 per cent of them also want to give their opinion on the setting of 20mph zones that may affect their travel through their local area.

Lancashire County Council introduced a number of 20mph zones across the county last year in a bid to cut accidents in residential areas.

Almost seven out of 10 of all accidents in Lancashire where people are killed or seriously injured happen in 30mph areas as opposed to faster roads.

County Coun John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport said: “Whatever we do, we need to make sure it is sustainable and everybody, including drivers and residents, is educated about the 20mph zones.

“At this moment in time we’re not looking to introduce any more 20mph signs, we want to ensure the ones we already have are working correctly.”

Councillor Fillis commented that some residents have complained about the 20mph enforcement.

He said: “People have told us they are a waste of money, that they’re not policed correctly and that drivers are simply ignoring them.

“If we go back a few years when people all wanted speed humps, they are now the ones complaining.

“But what is key is that if somebody is hit by a car at 20mph, they stand a far better chance of survival than if they’re hit at 30mph so the speed restrictions do need to be put in place.

Edmund King, the AA’s president said: “The AA supports the setting up of 20mph speed limits where residents along those roads want them.

“The need for local democratic approval, at street level, is clearly affirmed by this AA Populus panel survey.”

“Neighbourhoods face differing challenges from traffic: some may need to slow down their own residents and reduce the risk of accidents, others have a ‘rat-running’ problem that a 20mph speed limit on its own won’t address.

“The case for lowering speed outside vulnerable locations, such as schools and hospitals, is generally accepted.

“However, sweeping 20mph restrictions that slow down commuters, business deliveries and services, and the pace of a town or city in general are not.

“It’s little wonder that the loudest calls for consultation on 20mph zones are in the North West, West Midlands and London – in other words, Manchester and Liverpool, Birmingham and London – all at 57 per cent.”

A 61 per cent approval of speed cameras where a specific problem emerges on a 20mph road, such as a serious or series of accidents, shows a significant shift of approval towards the general acceptance level of 20mph zones from AA members.

Mr King said: “There is a lot of fear among drivers that, with 20mph being a relatively unfamiliar speed, widespread speed camera use will make them look more at their speedometers than at what is happening on populated streets in front of them.”

“Use of speed-indicating signs may help to educate and familiarise drivers with the lower speeds, while proven urban road engineering features may also influence behaviour – while deterring rat-running. “