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Is a 20 mile an hour speed limit enforceable?

Introducing 20mph speed limits: frequently asked questions

Why do you want to introduce a 20mph speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets across Wales?

Introducing a 20mph default speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets across Wales will:

  • save lives and reduce the risk and severity of injuries from collisions between vehicles and vulnerable road users
  • make streets safer for playing, walking and cycling
  • encourage more people to make more sustainable travel choices
  • makes Wales more attractive for our communities
  • bring physical and mental health benefits
  • reduce noise pollution, promote cleaner air and be better for the environment

What are the benefits of changing the default speed limit?

The evidence from around the world is very clear – reducing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives. Public Health Wales believe that lowering the default speed limit to 20mph could have substantial health benefits. 20mph will reduce the risk of collisions, help people feel safer and benefit people’s physical and mental well-being. A recent public health study estimated that the 20mph default speed limit could result in:

  • 40% fewer collisions
  • saving 6 to 10 lives every year;
  • and avoiding 1200 to 2000 people being injured every year.

Will this affect all roads that are currently 30mph?

These changes will affect most 30mph roads but not all.

This legislation changes the default speed limited on restricted roads. These are generally residential or busy pedestrian streets with streetlights.

But not all 30mph roads are restricted roads, and these remain at 30mph, and will be signed.

For restricted roads, local authorities and the 2 Trunk Road Agencies, can also make exceptions to the default speed limit in consultation with their communities.

We have published a map on DataMapWales that shows which roads would stay at 30mph.

My local area already has reduced speeds of 20mph. Is it part of this initiative?

Many local authorities have already introduced 20mph speed limits across the country due to the recognised benefits and public support. As part of the first phase of the 20mph rollout 8 settlements chose to take part and make their default speed lower:

  • Abergavenny and Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • North Cardiff
  • Buckley, Flintshire
  • Cilfrew Village, Neath and Port Talbot
  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Llanelli North, Carmarthenshire

You can read the first monitoring report detailing some of the impacts introduction of 20mph has had in these communities. Overall speed has reduced in these areas.

Will the police enforce the proposed 20mph speed limit?

The Police and GoSafe will continue to enforce 20mph, like any other speed limit, to make our roads safer for all users. They will also be helping to engage with and educate motorists to ensure that the new speed limits are respected, and driver behaviour change is supported.

Will reducing the speed limit impact traffic flow?

We do not believe that a 20mph speed limit will increase the number of vehicles driving on the road. Potentially traffic will flow more smoothly.

How will a lower speed limit promote walking and cycling?

Lower speeds mean that people feel more comfortable to walk and cycle and it is safer for children to walk to school. Older people, disabled people or people with additional needs will feel more able to travel independently.

There is evidence from across the world that vehicle speeds are one of the main reasons why people do not walk or cycle or do not allow their children to walk or cycle to school.

How will the new 20mph limit affect pollution?

A study by Imperial College found that 20mph limited areas were “pollution neutral”. Many things contribute to pollution levels. They include:

  • driving style,
  • acceleration,
  • braking,
  • vehicle condition
  • distance travelled and
  • engine temperature.

We believe the lower speed limits will encourage more people to choose active ways to travel and there will be fewer polluting cars on the roads.

Will a reduced speed limit improve safety?

The World Health Organisation states that the most effective way to improve pedestrian safety is to reduce the speed of vehicles.

In the distance a 20mph car can stop, a 30mph car will still be doing 24mph.

From the international evidence base, it can be concluded, on average, a person is around five times more likely to be killed when hit by a vehicle travelling at around 30mph than they are from a vehicle travelling around 20mph.

What effect will the speed limit have on journey times?

Journey times on roads in urban areas tend to be determined by junctions and signals, rather than the speed limit.

In many cases lowering the speed limit to 20mph will have little or no impact on journey times. Where there is an impact, our analysis showed us that most journeys would only be around 1 minute longer but this would make the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Why can’t the 20mph limit be set up as timed limits during school hours only?

This won’t encourage children to walk or cycle from home, as it would only protect children near the school, where they already have safety in numbers.

80% of child casualties are on non-school trips. Introducing a 20mph default speed limit will make children safer from the moment they leave home — it is designed to make streets safer for everyone.

Will the roll out involve money being spent on speed bumps?

There is no plan to include traffic calming (including speed bumps) as part of the change to speed limits. There are other ‘softer’ measures that might be introduced, such as using buffer speed limits, removing the centre line, narrowing the carriageway visually, using planting etc.

Will reducing speeds to 20mph damage my car?

Modern cars can drive at 20mph without damaging the engine or components.

Accelerating up to a reduced speed of 20mph, and driving at a more consistent speed, should result in lower tyre and brake abrasion and help prolong engine and gearbox life.

Will driving at 20mph mean I use more fuel?

No. Fuel consumption is mainly influenced by the way we drive – driving at a consistent speed is better than stopping and starting. Accelerating up to 30mph can take twice as much energy as speeding up to 20mph.

A default 20 mph limit and a smooth driving style, can help avoid unnecessary speeding up and slowing down, saving fuel.

Why are bicycles allowed to overtake me when I am driving at 20mph?

Speed limits in the Road Traffic Regulations and the Highway Code apply to motor vehicles only and not to bicycles. However, the Highway Code states that cyclists should be considerate of other road users.

Where else have 20mph speed limits been introduced in the UK?

20mph speed limits are in force in many of the medium and larger cities in England and Scotland and more rural authorities are introducing larger scale extended 20mph programmes.

If Scotland also sets 20mph default speed limits, up to 28 million people in the UK will live in local authorities where 20mph is normal.

20mph areas

Some parts of Lancashire have among the worst accident records in the country for children being injured in residential areas which involve pedestrians and cyclists.

Almost 7 out of 10 of all accidents in Lancashire where people are killed or seriously injured happen in 30mph areas and not in faster roads.

There is a clear link between the speed of traffic and the likelihood of accidents happening in which people are killed or injured. Slowing down results in fewer accidents, and less severe injuries.

It has been shown that you are seven times more likely to survive if you are hit by a car driving at 20mph, than if you are hit at 30mph. If a child suddenly steps in front of you, you are much less likely to seriously injure or kill them if you keep to a 20mph limit.

Quality of life

As well as improving safety, the new 20mph limits in Lancashire aim to improve people’s quality of life and make our streets safer places for walking and cycling.

Peace of mind for our communities

Communities throughout Lancashire say road safety is a top priority, especially in relation to young children. Cars speeding through residential streets is an issue which worries many people, particularly parents and more vulnerable people.

It doesn’t stop traffic moving efficiently

The 20mph limits have been put in place in main residential areas and outside schools and not on major through-routes so traffic can keep moving efficiently.

You’ll only spend a small part of your average journey, keeping to the lower limit will only take around one minute longer and that small difference could save someone’s life.

How you can spot a 20mph area

20mph areas are being made clear by speed signs on lamp posts.

We have not introduced speed bumps as this would cost five times more per street than sign-only 20mph areas. We also know this is not always a popular option with motorists who don’t like speed bumps damaging their cars.

How the police will enforce the new limits

The 20mph speed limits can and will be enforced in the same way that any other speed limit is. We are working closely with the police, and enforcement will take place in the same way it does on any other road. However, as with other roads, the key aim is not to prosecute people but to encourage drivers to keep to the speed limits because they value the reasons for doing so.

What you can do

If you are a driver you have a responsibility for road safety by driving responsibly so please do your bit and keep to 20mph in the designated areas and encourage others to do the same.

Make it part of your routine and you could help save a life. It will only make your journey about 60 seconds longer which we hope you’ll agree is worth it if, together, we can prevent deaths and injuries on our roads.

A recent national survey found that around 74% of people supported the use of 20mph in residential streets. If you would like others to drive carefully outside your own front door, the same has to apply when you’re driving past somebody else’s house.

There was a time when the «don’t drink and drive» and «clunk, click, every trip» seatbelt messages went against what many people thought but there was a compelling reason for promoting them. It’s the same with the 20mph programme, where we aim to make slowing down in built up areas the norm for a very important reason.

Roads, parking and travel

  • Major transport schemes
  • Highways and transport masterplans
  • Highway asset management In Lancashire
  • Winter service plan 2022-23
  • Residents permit parking schemes — essential criteria
  • 20mph areas
  • Street work permits
  • Blue Badge policy
  • Installation of electric vehicle charge points throughout Lancashire
  • Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPS)
  • Bus Service Improvement Plan

20mph toolkit Edinburgh

We want to make Edinburgh a better and safer place to live, work, visit and play. Slower speeds are safer for all. Traffic speed is often too fast in our residential and local shopping streets. This can be a barrier to walking and cycling and increase the risk and severity of accidents. Reducing traffic speed helps people feel more confident about using their local streets. It is safer for children to walk to school, while older people feel more able to travel independently and safely. Calmer road speeds lead to better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.

Where do 20mph limits apply?

The 20mph network includes residential, shopping and city centre streets, with a strategic network of roads maintained at 30 and 40 mph. A map of the 20mph network is available on our website.

How will I know when I am on a road with a 20mph speed limit?

Large 20mph signs mark the entrance and exit of a 20mph area where the speed limit changes. These signs are supplemented by smaller repeater signs or road markings with speed limit roundels. The signage requirements for enforceable 20mph zones are set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.

Do slower speeds increase congestion?

Research indicates that slower speeds encourage a smoother driving style with less stopping and starting which helps traffic to flow. Evidence from other 20mph areas shows that, over the longer term, slower speeds encourage more people to walk and cycle, easing congestion on the road.

Will air pollution get worse?

Studies have so far not conclusively proven either a positive or negative effect on the environment: driving at 20 mph causes some emissions to rise slightly and some to fall. Reduced acceleration and braking may help to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions. Some environmental benefit from the change is expected from helping to unlock the potential for walking or cycling short distances instead of driving.

How will the new limits be enforced?

Police Scotland is supportive of improved road safety across the city and is working with the Council to achieve this. Police Scotland recognise that speed management is an important element of this and will continue to enforce speed limits across the city road network. 3 The new 20mph limit will rely on a shift in driver behaviour which will take time to embed. The Council is working with the Police to raise awareness of the new speed limits through road safety education and prevention activities.

What impact will slower speeds have on businesses?

Businesses can benefit from a more pleasant environment for shopping, 4 residents was carried out, revealing 79% in support of the new speed limit and only 4% against. The public consultation held in 2014 attracted nearly 3,000 responses from a wide range of individuals and organisations with a majority (60%) supporting or strongly supporting the proposals and 36% opposing or strongly opposing them.

Are other towns and cities doing something similar?

20mph speed limits are in force in an increasing number of towns and cities across Europe and the UK. Bristol, a city very similar in size to Edinburgh, has introduced 20mph limits on a similar scale to Edinburgh. Portsmouth and Oxford have citywide 20mph limits on most roads. Several London Boroughs have introduced a 20mph limit on all roads that they control.

Do 20mph speed limits work?

National evidence has shown that sign-only 20mph speed limits can help to reduce average speeds and improve safety. Evidence from the pilot scheme in South Edinburgh showed similar results, with average speeds reduced to just over 20mph, and with larger falls in speeds on the roads that had higher average speeds before the limit was introduced. Of 1000 people surveyed in the South Edinburgh pilot area, 79% supported the 20mph limit, just 4% opposed it.

Why do 20mph speed limits need to apply 24 hours a day?

While the majority of casualties happen during daylight hours, there are a significant number of people injured at night particularly in the autumn and winter months and at weekends. It is also important that operating hours are clear to avoid any confusion.

Won’t it make driving harder?

This will be a change and it will take some conscious decision making as a driver to make a difference. It will take some time to become second nature. In reality we are rarely driving at a consistent speed, particularly in a city where we are constantly accelerating, decelerating and braking to respond to current traffic speeds, traffic lights or junctions, and other road users.

Aren’t 20mph limits just another way of unfairly targeting motorists?

Our aim is to balance the needs of drivers with the safety and environment of local residents. 20mph creates a safer environment for everyone, including motorists.

Will the Council profit from 20mph speeding fines?

The Council will not profit from the introduction of 20mph speed limits. Speeding fines are submitted to the UK Treasury through the Scottish Court Service and any 20mph fines will be treated in exactly the same way.

How will the scheme be monitored?

We set up a monitoring programme at the start of the 20mph rollout in 2016 to monitor road traffic speeds, road casualties, and public perceptions. Findings were reported to Committee in October 2019 approximately one year after completion of the final phase. Council officers will continue to monitor the 20mph network to determine speed and casualty trends over a longer period of time.

Who do I contact if I want to know more?

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