One In Three Urban Areas To Get 20mph Speed Limits

A third of all urban areas in the UK are set to implement default 20mph speed limits, backed up by stronger police enforcement…

A Slower Pace Of Life?

A third of the country’s urban areas have opted to set 20mph as their default speed limits. The typical 30mph limit has been around for about 80 years. But with cases of speeding rising, authorities feel as though tougher measures are necessary. For instance, 77,000 drivers have been caught ignoring 20mph limits in London since January 2020 alone. That’s compared to just 50,000 over the course of 2019 in full. In Avon and Somerset, 25,090 drivers were caught in 2018; none had been caught at all in the previous year.

It’s crucial, then, that the lower limits are also accompanied by greater enforcement. Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police is in charge of enforcing 20mph limits in London. He told the Times, “drink-drive is rightly seen as socially unacceptable and I urge everyone to treat speed in the same way”. He’s overseeing a plan to reduce road casualties to zero in the city by 2041.

The Fors And Againsts 

As with practically every aspect of driving, strong opinions exist on the subject of 20mph limits. The road safety charity Brake has called for the national rollout of 20mph limits in villages, towns and cities. It considers it the safest option given that urban roads are shared by drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road-users. Mark Drakeford, the First Minster of Wales, has expressed the same view. He’s said, “the Welsh Government believe that 20mph should be the default speed limit for residential areas”.

On the other side of the fence is the likes of the Freight Transport Association. It’s argued that lowering urban speed limits would inevitably increase delivery times and costs; with HGVs transporting fresh goods being the worst affected. Edmund King, President of the AA, seems to accept targeted limits whilst being sceptical of a broader implementation. He said, “most motorists accept the use of speed cameras and most support lower speeds where appropriate. Targeted 20mph zones outside schools, parks and residential areas work well. Blanket 20mph zones can backfire”.

With a third of urban areas opting for the 20mph limit, it’s likely that more will follow suit in time. After all, no council wants to be seen to be neglecting road safety. Precisely what the outcome of this will be isn’t clear, but drivers will need to be cautious whilst different speed limits and enforcement methods are employed across the country.

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