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Public support 20mph limits, but more enforcement needed: UWE

Monday 27th January 2014

Two academics from the University of West England (UWE) have concluded that that although support is strong for 20mph limits in residential areas and busy streets, police enforcement is needed to “confront the driving of a minority”.

Professors Alan Tapp and Clive Nancarrow of UWE's Social Marketing Centre reached their conclusions after analysing the results of a recent YouGov survey of Great Britain, which they say shows “clear majority of support for 20mph limits".

In the YouGov survey, 65% of respondents support or strongly support 20mph limits in residential streets and 72% support the same limit in busy shopping areas and busy streets.

Road safety and children's safety were the key reasons given for supporting 20mph limits. Other less important reasons included making streets more pleasant to live in, encouraging more walking and cycling, reducing noise and improving the quality of life.

Professor Clive Nancarrow said: “We found a higher level of support for 20mph in residential areas amongst women and older age groups.

“There was also an association with voting intention, with a higher level of support for 20mph limits amongst Green (75%) and Labour voters (70%) and a lower level of support amongst Conservatives (60%), UKIP (60%) and Lib-Dems (63%).”

Commenting on whether motorists will obey 20mph limits, professor Alan Tapp said: “While a majority of drivers (64%) agree that they 'will be careful to observe new 20 mph limits wherever they are', nevertheless a minority (31%) say 'If a 20mph speed limit is introduced, I may not stick to it'.

“Other data may provide clues as to why this divide exists. For instance almost three quarters (73%) of adults in Great Britain agree that breaking speed limits is not acceptable in most circumstances and nearly two thirds (59%) think most people drive too quickly.

“But on the other hand 28% of drivers agreed 'I use my own judgement, not speed limits, to decide on my speed on the road', while 49% thought 'It is just too difficult to stay at 20mph'.

“Almost a third of people (30%) thought that 20mph is an example of a nanny state; and a small minority (7%) demonstrated their libertarian beliefs agreeing that 'I think people should be free to drive at whatever speed they want to’.

Professor Tapp continued: “Apart from these divides in attitude, local authorities and 20mph supporters need to also be aware of a possible 'vicious circle' effect, in which those who want to comply with the new limits may be put off from doing so because they are affected by the driving behaviour of others: 37% of drivers said they 'tend to drive at the speed of others on the road'.

“This 'copycat effect' may be compounded by a feeling amongst the large majority - 71% of drivers – who agreed that 'people will ignore 20mph limits because they don't see themselves getting caught by the police'.

“That's why clear and unequivocal police support for 20mph limits would be very welcome for those who want a new culture of driving at slower speeds in built up areas.”

Click here to read the full UWE news release.

 

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John:
What's the basis of yours and Paul Smith's 'research' into impact speeds? (Is that the same Paul Smith who also tried to convince people there were 40 negative effects of speed cameras by any chance?)

With such supposed (and unbelievable) low impact speeds, then presumably no pedestrian ever gets more than a grazed knee on Australia's urban roads and your accident records would support that. Remarkable - what's the secret?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

Well John.
What you didn't read into my comments was the fact that whilst you do get 70-100mpg at a steady 20mph it is so far removed from real-world urban fuel economy that the steady speed mpg of 30 compared to 20 is not relevant at all. Its acceleration that uses most fuel and the more repeated and higher the speed you accelerate to then the more fuel you use.

The point about impact speeds is that the lower your prevailing speed when an incident happens then so your impact speed will be lower as well. And with a 30mph vehicle still doing 24mph in the distance a 20mph vehicle stops then often there is no crash at all.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

Rod King seems to think it's perfectly fine to assert "facts" that are provably completely wrong. 70 mpg at 20 mph is absolute nonsense EXCEPT where a vehicle is travelling at a constant 20 mph (no accelerating or braking) on a dead level road. With normal braking for lights, corners, roundabouts and associated acceleration plus idling at lights real life fuel consumption will be 20-25 mpg. And increasing maximum speed to 30 mph makes very little difference in urban environments. As for the "so many crashes can be avoided at 20 mph" that is also nonsense. Paul Smith's research in UK and my similar research in Australia showed that in 30 mph zones average impact speeds in pedestrian crashes were no more than 5 mph; and in our 60 kph zones no more than 10 kph (6 mph).
John Lambert

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-1

Tim
It's the level of inactivity in Portsmouth and West Midlands which means that lower traffic speeds are valued. Don't expect an overnight change but do expect it to be a necessary foundation for other trigger factors to help people take up walking and cycling.

I am not sure there are any interventions which don't inevitably consume money from other resources. But lower speeds are mainly a capital spend rather than revenue. For our part we are already looking towards implementation costs reducing by 50% once we get less signage required and lower TRO costs. Then they will be only 1% of the cost of physical calming and engineering. Or more usefully, for the cost of providing a physically calmed street and benefiting 250 residents you could provide a 20mph limit to a community of 25,000.

Other organisations such as public health are well aware of the benefits of cheap large scale interventions compared to costly targeted one. Isolated interventions may work well for the "micro" but fail to deliver the "macro". When isolated and engineered 20mph zones also endorse speeds 50% higher outside of their isolated scope then they have a negative macro effect as well lower overall value for money.

Whilst I respect your perspective I and many others see the benefit wide-area 20mph limits in establishing a clear statement of society expectation of drivers in the public realm and assist in meeting aspirations across many other local authority targets such as noise, pollution, accessibility, mobility, public health, etc.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

Rod:
20mph limits only achieve the claimed benefits if they succeed in reducing speed, and apparently in order to succeed they have to suck resources away from other needs. If 20's Plenty works so well at encouraging an active lifestyle, why is Portsmouth ranked 121 out of 150 in a recent report on adult inactivity several years after implementation of its 20 limit? That's nearly as bad as the West Midlands. For the record, when I want to call something a problem I will, but do not put words into my mouth. What I see here is priorities and I have made a clear argument for what I consider the higher priority to be.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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Tim:
I see no "inconvenient truth" about casualties. What I do see is that 20mph limits deliver many benefits beyond road casualties and that may well mean that it provides value for money that other interventions do not. You may see that as a "problem" whilst many others see it as a "benefit".
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

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+1

Not sure if Tim is reinforcing what I said or not and I hope my comment hasn’t been misunderstood, but I was actually alluding to an earlier comment by Mr McDermott in which survival (or not) from an accident seemed to be the only important factor to be considered, not the collision itself.

The shame is not on those who are tasked with doing something about it, but on the motorised road users who allow it to happen to them, in what should already be regarded as safe, low-speed areas.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

Hugh, you are right, the toll of death and injury is shameful; a shame which belongs jointly to all those road users who fail in their responsibilities. The shame does not belong to the road safety profession for having the dubious privilege of trying to mitigate the damage done. I don't know anyone who considers casualties of any severity as acceptable, but in a world where the resources to implement a total solution are never likely to be ours to deploy, we necessarily have to consider effective targetting of available resources. The 20 mph lobby claims the moral high ground because you can’t disagree with the notion that lower speeds in residential areas would be a good thing. What you can disagree with is whether this is the best use of available resources if your overall aim is for there to be fewer, less severe casualties. Notice how Rod bats away the inconvenient truth about casualties because it doesn’t support his cause. It really would be shameful if we were driven by sentiment in disregard of the facts.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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+5

Idris
I know you always aim "fight back with facts" but you seem to do so with the "wrong facts". The Guardian article was referring to hyper-miling and the 50-55 mph was in the context of motorway driving. Here is the Telegraph referring to 94mpg at 20mph. I didn't say speed was a "causal or contributory" factor as per Stats19, but made the observation that most crashes could have been avoided had the participants had more time to take avoiding action if they had been driving slower.

And yes, that kinetic energy. It gets converted doesn't it. To heat in the transmission system and brakes. Hence not "lost" at all. Perhaps next time I am driving in town I can remember to poach an egg on top of the gearbox so I can make use of all that kinetic energy!
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

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+1

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2011/mar/25/hypermiling-tips

"7. The Energy Saving Trust says that the most efficient speed you can travel in a car in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph."

It follows that efficiency at 20mph is lower at 20mph than at 30mph. As before, the 125% extra energy needed to accelerate from 20mph to 30mph is not lost but stored as kinetic energy
Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield

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0

Rod King claims that speed is implicated in almost every crash as a reason why it could not have been avoided. This is simply untrue - Stats19 causation analysis since 2005 has consistently shown that inappropriate speeds and speeds above limits combined were or might have been causal factors in 10% of slight, 18% of SI and 30% of fatal accidents. That is a long way from being "almost all".
Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield

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-1

Andy makes the usual mistake in confusing impact speed with speed before the accident. The difference is due to braking by alert drivers, As Paul Smith pointed out years ago the proportion killed by impact on 30mph or even 40mph roads is in low single figure percentages, which surely proves the point.
Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield

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Rod King, who claims to be an engineer, must know that the additional energy needed to accelerate from 20mph to 30mph becomes kinetic energy which is released when slowing down, not lost. The effect on fuel consumption is easy to check in any reasonably modern car with a computer display of mpg. When there is little or no traffic to get in the way, drive an urban route of your choice, at varying speeds similar to normal speeds, first with 20mph maximum then with 30mph maximum - and report the results here.
Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield

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I find it strange that 13 people do not want an informed debate, based on results. I prefer to base my views on facts.
Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield

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I agree Hugh. KSIs are very subjective and very much depend on such factors as trauma care, admissions policy, police subjectivity, etc. And of course Stats19 reports are substantially lower than hospital reporting.

Whilst speeding to the extent that one loses control may only be a minority cause of crashes, speed is implicated in almost every crash as a reason why it could not have been avoided. Yet so often the only advantage of speed is the self-satisfaction of "making progress" which only has marginal reductions if any in journey times.

Speed certainly "kills" the liveability of our cities, "kills" the options for alternative and active travel, "kills" conversation and streetside communication. Its disbenefits are huge. What this report shows is that the vast majority of people want lower speeds and also want proper enforcement.

I look forward to new technology on enforcement coming so that those majority wishes can be complied with by the reluctant few who wish to ignore the developing social norm that 20's Plenty where people live, shop, play, work and learn.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

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0

Why do we persist in measuring road safety in deaths or injuries as if one outcome is acceptable but the other isn't? It makes me shudder when 'survival' rates at different speeds in residential areas are quoted as if plain old ordinary injuries don't really count. In residential areas, our goal should be not to collide with anything or anyone - period. The fact that it happens at all is shameful.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

Enforcement only works if it is seen to be operating at a sufficient frequency for would-be transgressors to believe they might be caught. This will clearly not be the case if 90% of the road network adopts speed limits which won't be voluntarily complied with. At best, enforcement won't be sufficient to change behaviour; at worst it may be diverted from locations that really need it. Don't forget, high numbers and severity of casualties still appear to cluster around the wider, more strategic roads where a 20 mph limit is least likely to be considered appropriate or observed. (at least in urban areas)
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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+4

Here in Crewe we have 20 schools in a dense urban 2 mile radius. More than half get a lift to school, most cite safety as the reason. A 20 mph blanket zone would at least feel safer, and encourage walking and cycling which would reduce congestion and make everyones journey more pleasant.
Ben Wye, Schools Coordinator, Crewe

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+1

Andy:
It's really much better than you suggest. Stopping distances are much reduced at 20mph and so many crashes can be avoided if participants are travelling slower. There is a lot of cognitive dissonance on behalf of those wanting to keep speeds higher. Emissions is a typical area where they fail to accept that it's acceleration and braking that cause far more emissions than steady state speeds. When you consider that most modern cars do above 70mpg at a steady 20mph yet only achieve 30-40mph around town because of the acceleration and braking. Every time a driver goes back up to 30 from 20 then they need and 1.25 times the energy needed to get up to 20mph. Then its dissipated when they brake creating dust emissions.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+1

As a driver trainer my view may seem very simplistic but in MOST residential areas where the 20mph speed limits exist it would be generally regarded as an 'appropriate speed' (Highway Code rule 125) anyway. RoSPA's own figures for adult pedestrian survival rates state that when hit by a car at an impact speed of 20mph the survival rate is 97.5% compared to 80% when hit at 30mph (survival rate drops to 50% at 35mph). I am not aware of survival rates for children but common sense would suggest survival rates would be lower. The higher emmisions is another issue. Personally I would prefer to take my chances on that one and stick with 20mph - as I approach 50 I have grown up through decades of high emmisions and toxins but in more recent years I have seen a considerable improvement. On the other hand I could have been hit by a car NOT travelling at an appropriate speed and in the blink there go I or more worryingly one of my children. I could stir up a hornets' nest and suggest we all go out and buy lower emmisions vehicles as a way of counteracting that particular problem but I won't! (Oh oh maybe I just did - better put my crash helmet on now.)
Andy McDermott RoSPA Gold Advanced Driver and ADI, North Yorkshire

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+2

Rod
In the real world, vehicles travelling at 30mph in third gear create lower emissions per mile than those travelling at 20mph in second gear.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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+5

Eric
By "real world" I meant using acceleration and deceleration rather than steady state. Adding brake emissions will only be lower with less braking from 30mph.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

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+2

Rod:
Imperial College did not measure emissions of any of the vehicles in their "real world study" - their results are based on models and they are candid about the shortcomings of those models. For example, they say "This analysis is suitable for per-vehicle emission rates, and does not consider secondary effects such as congestion".

They also say "Although the modeling work here has been validated, application of high-resolution portable emissions measurement systems to specific cases in London would yield useful data that could better help answer the research questions. A particular deficiency in current understanding is around tyre and brake wear".
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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+3

Well done Darren. You have a nice site, but your comments are wrong.

The 1999 report you referenced actually shows that the real world 50-20-50 kmh patterns are the worst for air pollution. Steady state speed comparisons are therefore not a reliable indicator of practical emissions. This confirms that it is driving patterns that can most increase emission. As you use 125% more energy to reach 30mph than 20mph it is why a 20 limit compensates for any differences in steady state efficiency. It's why Imperial College found that in real world tests 20mph limits did not have a detrimental effect on air quality.

Any idea that any (slight) increase in journey times effect general quality of life assumes a rather car-centric a view of what life is all about. The difference in noise is reported as 3db. Not insignificant.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

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-1

The problem with 20mph limits is, if it does reduce road deaths, it merely shifts the cause of deaths to air pollution. There's a significant increase in NOx and CO2 at 20mph over 30mph. Of course, deaths through pollution are not visible because the news never reports on it. Therefore politicians like reducing the 20mph limit. As it reduces fuel economy it increases the tax take from fuel, too. However, as it increases journey time it reduces the quality of living, and a vehicle at 20mph is not significantly quieter than one at 30mph. Here's more information:
http://rightdriver.co.uk/blog/edinburgh-imposing-20mph-speed-limits-by-2017-air-pollution-may-worsen/
Darren, Lincolnshire

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0

Even more worrying than I first thought then. However these statements originated, they still seem to have been endorsed by a significant proportion to be a cause for concern.
Worth bearing their attitudes in mind Dave next time you're out cycling - one of them might be coming around the next bend, or behind you.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+3

Hugh, in any valid statistical analysis it is always assumed that the sample is of sufficient size that the results do represent the entire population, otherwise there would be no point in doing them.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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+2

Actually, Hugh, those were not comments by motorists, they were comments by UWE who then asked people (not just motorists) to agree or disagree. It is often difficult to determine what survey results mean, especially when most contain leading questions.

For example, I exceed 20mph in 20mph areas quite legally (I cycle) and people should “be free to drive at whatever speed they want to” so long as it is safe. People often don't answer the question you might think they are being asked. Formulating the questions therefore needs very careful thought to ensure they don't lead to a desired answer and that the answers the public give are unambiguous.

Universities should be unbiased, using their position to promote the best testing and most competent analysis. More and more seem to be taking political positions that may be in opposition to be best evidence. Is this a new phenomenon?
Dave Finney, Slough

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-3

It's obviously not 'half the population' Duncan, it's half the number of respondents. They don't say how many.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+3

I wonder if these fine academics could explain to me how the following findings represent a 'minority' that needs confronting?

"28% of drivers agreed 'I use my own judgement, not speed limits, to decide on my speed on the road', while 49% thought 'It is just too difficult to stay at 20mph'.

Pretty well half the population is most definitly not a minority to be 'confronted', but a significant slice of the population whose views are just as valid as the other half.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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+1

Judging from the published comments of some of the motoring public, it's hard to imagine how a road accident could ever occur isn't it? e.g "I think people should be free to drive at whatever speed they want to" or "it's just too difficult to stay at 20mph". Beggars belief really.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+8

20mph campaigners have been very successful in getting favourable press coverage. Here on RoadSafetyGB hardly a day goes by without 20mph news items, almost all promoting 20mph. It's hardly surprising the public might support 20mph but what if the public knew the actual effects where 20mph has been tried? Would support remain high if the evidence were as widely publicised?

Here in Slough Serious injuries went up in the largest 20mph scheme. There was opposition to the Langley 20mph scheme (implemented anyway) leading to much local anger. In Burnham, the councillor attempted to introduce 20mph limits but didn't find local support saying 20mph is a “dead duck” (Slough Express 24/1/14).

Even now, 20mph could still be implemented in scientific trials. Doing that would bypass the politics, opinions and endless debate to allow discussion based on robust evidence. Wouldn't an informed debate be a refreshing change?
Dave Finney, Slough

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+1

Readers should be aware that UWE have, this month, reclassified their "social marketing" involvement in the Bristol 20mph scheme from being an "Improving Road Safety" project to "Behaviour in Travel and Transport". This followed the resolution of my complaint to UWE about some of their marketing techniques, as presented by Prof Tapp's colleague at the 2012 20mph Places Conference, which I attended.

This new survey suggests that the public support 20mph because they think it improves road safety. In fact, there is no evidence of that.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-3