Majority of drivers continue to exceed 20mph limits

11.59 | 26 June 2019 | | | 43 comments

New statistics show that during 2018, 87% of cars exceeded the speed limit on roads with a 20mph limit – with 22% breaking the limit by more than 10mph.

The DfT statistics measure speed and compliance at sites where the road conditions are ‘free flowing’ – for example roads with no junctions, hills, sharp bends, speed enforcement cameras or other traffic calming measures.

However, the DfT acknowledges that free flowing conditions are not typical of most 20mph roads and as a result, must be ‘interpreted with additional caution’.

Levels of compliance on other road types
Single carriageway roads where the national speed limit applies (60 mph) had the highest levels of compliance, with only 10% of cars exceeding the limit. However, this figure represents a 1% rise on 2017 when only 9% exceeded the limit.

On motorways, 46% of cars exceeded the 70mph speed limit, with 11% exceeding it by more than 10mph. These figures show a year-on-year fall; compared to 48% and 12% respectively in 2017.

On 30mph roads, 52% of cars exceeded the speed limit with 5% exceeding it by 10mph or more – 1% fewer than in 2016.

The DfT says the figures are not representative of the level of speeding across the whole road network – which it would ‘expect to be lower’.


 

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    One of the benefits of being in lane 1 Nigel is the shoulder is available as an escape route, if a large vehicle behind is apparently not going to be able to stop in time in the event of a an unexpected stop. The escape route can be for either vehicle – that option is not available if one is stationary or slowing rapidly in lanes 2 and 3. Also, whilst it may be ‘up to me’, isn’t it the case that we’re supposed to only be in lanes 2 or 3 if we’re overtaking and the default lane should be lane 1?


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    0

    That’s obviously up to you, Hugh, but I don’t relish the idea of having to do an emergency stop in L1 with aw heavy a short distance off my tail, which is a quite likely scenario. I don’t fancy that suicide option, thank you.


    Nigel Albright
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    0

    On the other hand Nigel, when I am on the M/way you will find me invariably in lane 1, occasionally 2 and very, very rarely Lane 3. I see L1 as a buffer between me and the maniacal behaviour in L3! (I think we’re off the subject of the article however)


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    --3

    David

    The main topic of this article is the DfT Compliance Stats. But as these refer to only 10 20mph roads which are atypical of most 20mph roads then these discussions about 20mph on residential roads have no relevance at all to the article. In fact the article and DfT report is only credible for its discussion of faster speed limits where the roads measured may actually be typical of the majority of roads with the same limit.


    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (0) | Disagree (4)
    --4

    However, Hugh, contradiction though it might seem in 20s, 30s, 40s and generally 50s (down here too many are in place for the tourist trade, in my view), I am on the mark.


    Nigel Albright
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    +1

    Hugh wrote: ‘why presume that someone driving over the speed limit (bearing in mind it’s illegal anyway) as opposed to under it, is concentrating and fully aware, and in full control of their vehicle?’
    Hugh;of course it is to presume that everyone doing over the limit has their wits about them but, as I have indicated in previous exchanges and, earlier in this thread, I suggest not to presume that merely because anyone is over the limit that they don’t have their wits about them.

    Secondly, there is so much in traffic law that probably almost every driver on every trip will break some point of law at some time.

    No to be really eye popping: for me on M-ways generally L1 and L2 is not where I want to be; there are too many potential dangers in these areas and you often do not have sufficient control over your roadspace – yes, the space and time thingy. In L2 horror stories can come at you from all directions and the workload to maintain safety is often much higher than working in L3. So, for me safety is paramount. I will take my risks legally and most often be working in L3, thank you. However, if there is plenty of space – and I mean plenty of space – available in L2 or even L1 then I might well be there.


    Nigel Albright
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    0

    I was actually talking about 20 limits anyway David and not narrow rural roads with a 60 limit upon which, I completely agree, that speeds well below the limit which whilst legal, are not necessarily safe by any means – that’s the drawback of ‘one size fits all’ in terms of default national speed limits – not all single c/way roads are the same! Similarly, speeds of below 70 on the M’way are not necessarily safe and do not make one immune to an accident – but… that doesn’t excuse speeds over any limit in the mistaken presumption that the drivers concerned actually know what they are doing and are in complete control.

    To summarise, it’s not rocket science to work out that bringing a vehicle to a controlled stop is more likely and easier the slower the vehicle’s speed in the first place and none more so than when under 20 mph, as opposed to a 30 limit, in a residential area. Unfortunately, too many drivers can’t judge a safe speed in urban areas – otherwise there wouldn’t be such a wide variation of speeds for the same roads and conditions – hence lower speed limits are necessary but again, they will only be effective if they’re complied with in the first place.

    But back to 20 limits – it does take a conscious effort to note and comply with 20s which is why I said those drivers are a better bet in terms of collision avoidance – the laws of physics again.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    --3

    That’s not what I was implying, Hugh.

    The point which I was attempting to raise was that you cannot (and must not) presume that those travelling at, or below, any given speed limit are doing so whilst competent. Sure, they may be travelling lawfully but if we’re both pedestrians walking down a rural road, how are we to know that this lawful motorist has noticed us, and has judged risk accordingly?

    To spin this back to the main topic of this article, there may be drivers who are “on another planet” whilst doing 20mph in a residential area, having not thought about risk. They’re abiding by the speed limit, and not necessarily concentrating on any of the potential hazards out there. There may also be drivers driving in excess of 20mph, also without giving due thought to any potential risks.

    I do accept that there are some who travel above the speed limit who, in the course of doing so compromise the safety of themselves and others but I only accept this point *only* for the same reasons as above.


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
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    +5

    Turning it on its head David – why presume that someone driving over the speed limit (bearing in mind it’s illegal anyway) as opposed to under it, is concentrating and fully aware, and in full control of their vehicle? Have they instead chosen to focus their concentration on knowingly break the speed limit instead and if so why? I’m afraid the reality is, as I’ve discovered having spoken to so many speeders, is that, as they admitted, they were not paying attention to their driving which inevitably became compromised as a result. I noticed for instance too many of them, when signalled to stop, were so taken by surprise that they and struggled to bring their vehicle to a smooth stop – because they hadn’t been focussing on who or what was ahead on the road.

    I disagree with Nigel – I would be more comfortable in the vicinity of anyone complying with a 20 limit than not – those infernal laws of physics again! More time to see and react.


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (3)
    --3

    Just a further comment, Hugh, this time on the second paragraph starting, ‘It’s not just about….’. If a driver gets that caught out by the unexpected he or she was not observing and anticipating correctly. Remember, what you can not see can hurt you’.


    Nigel Albright
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    +4

    Yes, Hugh it is, of course, about maintaining a safe space all around but it seems you are still assuming that generally only those who keep to the speed limit have their wits about them which, as you know, I feel can be an erroneous assessment; too many keep to the speed limit and yet are highly vulnerable. I would not want to be near them.

    Not to be taken personally, of course, but the Cop Workshop programme featured Cheshire Police, so I am afraid it would not surprise me at all if you saw a high percentage of police crashes or, as they are often colloquially known, PolAcs. As you know I thought
    the stats were pretty horrendous and was quite incredulous that they were happy to freely put them into the public domain.


    Nigel Albright
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    0

    > If a driver is consciously aware of the limit and purposely stays under it, they are concentrating more on their driving and are more aware of their surroundings

    I’m sorry, but how can you be so sure of this, Hugh?

    As I’m sure you’re aware, a driver can still possess a poor attitude with regards to driving and the hazards that it brings and yet somehow remain within the confines of a speed limit.

    The reverse is also true, however that’s an unpopular opinion on here.


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
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    +2

    I think my original point about attitude still applies Nigel – if a driver is consciously aware of the limit and purposely stays under it, they are concentrating more on their driving and are more aware of their surroundings, than someone who, with their head in the clouds, are driving on automatic pilot, not concentrating on their driving and are therefore unprepared for the unexpected and lose control and are more likely to collide. I’ve spoke to too many speeders to be convinced that they know what they are doing.

    It’s not just about a safe distance from the vehicle in front either, it’s also about maintaining a safety space all around and what may suddenly appear in your path that wasn’t there a few moments ago.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (3)
    --2

    On the first paragraph we are principally in agreement, Hugh; attitude determines behaviour.

    The second paragraph broaches a wider topic. There is no doubt that for a number of reasons the general standard of police driving has fallen quite dramatically over time. Many marked vehicles are nowadays driven by PCSOs, at least down here – most of which will not have had any formal police driver training as I understand it. And ARV drivers are generally not of the caliber of proper traffic men. Even so my occasional dip into reality cop programmes because of my interest in driving most often does not impress me. In spite of all of that the ability to drive safety at high speeds is perfectly feasible if (1|) a driver is properly trained and (2) on the same track as yourself, if the attitude is right. The latter ultimately being the most important.

    I still say that please don’t automatically presume that because a driver is keeping to the speed limit he or she is automatically less vulnerable to crashes than someone who might exceed the speed limit. If latter is keeping too close to the one in front, I am on your side; if they are keeping plenty of space then, as an initial thought they might be in a different category. The prime criteria has obviously got to be ‘is it safe?’ And for safety space and time are your best friends. Best keep it that way would be my maxim.


    Nigel Albright
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    +3

    It’s not just the speed per se Nigel, but the speeder themselves and their attitude which influences their choice to ignore speed limits in the first place. Fortunately these are still the minority and compliance is still high – without threats of enforcement.

    I don’t share your confidence in the police’s ability to drive safely at high speed – I’ve seen enough footage of police crashes to show that they were going too fast and/or they were too close to stop in time! The laws of physics apply to them as it does to everyone else – advanced driver or not. I know there are times when it’s justified, but nevertheless it’s very high risk behaviour.


    Hugh Jones
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    --3

    Yes, Hugh, understood. But forever this obsession with speed being the main culprit puts the situation out of perspective. Speed, like money or a gun, is neutral. What ever the speed is it is a question of how and when it is used. But, as we have often discussed before, please don’t assume that merely because a driver does 30 in a 30 zone or 70 on a motorway that automatically he or she is safer than say, someone doing 90 in lane 3 (dare I even mention such things in the presence of this forum). If the ones doing 30 in a 30 and 70 in a 70 are too close (and very often seriously too close – most drivers have no idea of a safe following distance) they are going to be far more vulnerable to crashes than one in L3 who is keeping plenty of space around him or her and is critically aware that space and time are really the key safety factors. By the way, this does not assume that everyone in L3 understands this principle. If speed on it’s own was the main culprit police advanced courses would not be up to 160 mph. Conversely, there are times in a 30 when no more than 10mph might be the maximum safe speed for the circumstances and I would expect a police advanced driver to be doing that in those conditions. Big problem is that most people in road safety just follow the government mantra like sheep to the slaughter and, very unfortunately, do not understand the underlying principles involved – never having done more than a standard driving test, for example. For your interest I will forward to you my latest article, The Black, The White and the Grey. It will be a bit of an eye popper but, hopefully, it might help you understand the situation a little better.


    Nigel Albright
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    +2

    Quite possibly, Charles, it might have some effect however, history shows that appealing to drivers’ better nature (take the Highways Authority appeal last year to motorists not to drive too closely to other vehicles) generally has little or no effect. Sorry, but sad to say in driving carrots generally don’t work because drivers will most often work to their own agendas unless there is a very obvious case of prosecution. Encapsulated in tin boxes, nowadays often with darkened glass, anonymity increases and the sense of accountability reduces. In one form or another a sense of accountability would greatly increase thoughtfulness for others and most often have a direct affect safety on the roads, in my view.


    Nigel Albright
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    +3

    Some people don’t see the risks associated with speeding Nigel, but I doubt if there’s anyone who doesn’t see the risk of opening a car door in the path of a cyclist.

    Also, some drivers like to speed, but again I doubt if there’s anyone who ‘likes’ endangering a cyclist. Speeding drivers are far more an everyday hazard than drivers carelessly opening car doors. Lots of other subjects on this forum don’t generate comments either, but they’re still road safety related.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    --1

    Nigel, I think that if a pressure-group was advocating that the solution to “dooring” would be to erect small “no dooring” signs on the outskirts of urban areas, then the response would probably be greater.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
    +5

    It’s quite amazing really. Anything to do with speed and everyone dives in there; it generates a high level of interest and response but, if you are talking about safety the thread on not opening doors in the face of cyclists is probably equally important, but has only generated two comments.


    Nigel Albright
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    +2

    Guzzi

    Well within DfT guidance which advocates “general compliance”. I wouldn’t say 100% compliance, but certainly the prevailing speeds have reduced since a 20mph limit was set and are less than 20mph on average..

    But my key point was that the roads selected by DfT for their free-flowing compliance measurements bear no relation to most 20mph limits on residential or high streets. In addition, because they have changed sites since the previous year, any year on year comparisons are meaningless.

    So in reality this report tells us nothing other than that yet again the DfT publishes statistics which are of little use to anyone. The real news is why consistently the DfT spends money on creating reports where the sites used are either irrelevant or far too few in number to be of any value. All of this from the department that brought us ferry contracts with companies that had no ferries.


    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (1) | Disagree (6)
    --5

    err, what does “reasonable compliance with the limit” mean?

    Perhaps it means Just a bit illegal, but it will have to do because we really can’t expect anything better.


    Guzzi, Newport
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    +2

    …also when drivers who drive a familiar route are faced with a lower speed limit – particularly in built-up areas – when it eventually dawns on them that their journey times are actually unaffected and there are no benefits in trying to go faster than the road conditions and characteristics allow, they get used to it and perhaps even see the virtues in more moderate speeds.


    Hugh Jones
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    --3

    Well actually Guzzi, the 40 to 30 was about ten years ago and the new 20 I referred to not quite as old, but both still effective. No cameras or police enforcement at either road – perhaps they’re just law-abiding?


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)
    --5

    Hugh , it could be a sense of responsibility but it could equally be simply a response to a concern for getting caught and fined for speeding. If no enforcement is present, the average speeds will likely creep up over the next couple of months as people become complacent that they can ignore the 20mph limit. Time will tell.


    Guzzi, Newport
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    +10

    Dear Editor

    I live on a road that has a 20mph limit. your article says :-

    “New statistics show that during 2018, 87% of cars exceeded the speed limit on roads with a 20mph limit – with 22% breaking the limit by more than 10mph.”

    When I saw your article I wondered whether my road, which has reasonable compliance with the limit, could actually have been a 20mph road. But on closer inspection I found that my road was not one of the 8 UK roads that the DfT had measured.

    I guess that this means that your article is only of concern if you live on one of these 8 roads. Further inspection showed that hardly any of these rooads actually had anyone living on them.

    At least for the few people living on these roads then they can take comfort from the fact that only 22% of cars exceed 30mph, wheras it appears that if it had been one of the similar 30mph roads then 52% of cars would have exceeded 30mph.


    Rod King, Lymm, Cheshire, England
    Agree (2) | Disagree (13)
    --11

    Certainly on a local village’s main road with a relatively recent 20 limit, traffic is artificially slow i.e. slower than it was previously when a 30 and would be now if still 30. Similarly, a local urban, unusually wide main road was reduced from 40 to 30 and traffic speeds were (I admit unexpectedly by me) reduced accordingly, with no other changes to the environment.

    in both cases apart from the signs, no other changes were made, so what else could have slowed them down? A sense of responsibility perhaps and wanting to be seen to conform be law-abiding?


    Hugh Jones, South Wirral, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)
    --5

    Hugh, are you sure their speeds were influenced by the limits rather than were just simply at or below the limits? Traffic in the centre of my town generally complies with the limit, but I’m sure that even if there were no limits there wouldn’t be any difference in traffic speeds.


    Charles, Wells
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    +13

    Adrian, I hope we agree that even one casualty is one casualty too many. And my meaning of “appropriate” is the literal one: “suitable or proper in the circumstances”, and not a contrived one created for any political purpose. An appropriate speed is one which allows the driver time to react safely to any reasonably predictable event.

    Sure road user education is important, but we need to ensure that it is neutral and unbiased, as we need to allow all road users the opportunity to balance the facts and draw their own conclusions about what is acceptable behaviour on our public roads, whether they are using them on foot, on a bike, on an animal or at the controls of a motor vehicle. One’s own opinions generally carry more weight with one (especially in the teenage years) than those of well-meaning adults. Judgement and decision-making skills come with experience, so it is important (IMHO) that people are exposed to the full panoply of road situations from the earliest possible age, including simulations of the sorts of things that often result is serious accidents in reality.

    Real world experience tells us that far from raising the driving age, it should be lowered, and “roadmanship”, including pedestrianism, cycling and motor vehicle driving should ideally be on the national curriculum – as an extra “R” perhaps – and compulsory for all secondary school children, at least. That way we take advantage of their hunger and ability to learn, and can settle all the awkward situations whilst they are still impressionable, rather than waiting until their teenage hormones make them very resistant to receiving advice and very protective of their perceived image. That way driving becomes a “normal activity” and not a means to “prove” one’s virility and preserve one’s machismo, and 17-20s will no longer have something to prove by driving too riskily.

    I think improved public road design is the only way to significantly improve the likelihood of appropriate speeds, and the cost is one for society as a whole to bear – in the same way as they bear the cost of a public health service, and demand more funding where provision is perceived to be inadequate. That said, with a little imagination improved designs can be achieved at very little public cost – communities can self-assist by providing home-grown ways to blur the distinction between “road” and “pavement” and to increase the cognitive load on drivers and adult cyclists and the perceived risk, to allow them to coexist in peace with more vulnerable road users.

    Heaven forbid that “ISA” is implemented in urban settings as most pedestrians would surely conclude that 20 mph is way to reckless a speed for motor traffic mingling with pedestrians. And the last thing we need is increased speeds in those environments because motorists have been lulled into keeping their foot to the floor in the happy and self-righteous cloud cuckoo land of “we are sticking to the speed limit” that is being shamelessly promoted by some pressure groups.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (9) | Disagree (2)
    +7

    Charles: I’ve carried out many speed surveys and found that the vast majority of drivers do comply with them – because of the signs, not necessarily the roadside features. Those that didn’t, had not taken the trouble to note the speed limit or were ignoring it for reasons which they could not explain – head in the clouds usually and therefore a risk and a liability.


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (8)
    --7

    > David – you haven’t answered the question. Safer for whom?

    Let’s try again. I’d like to answer “everyone” but I’d like to think we both know it isn’t as clear cut as that. Every situation is different – and can change at an instant, hence my obtuse answer.


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
    +3

    Charles – good. Just to check that we’re not at the risk of violently agreeing here…

    When you say “appropriate”, do you mean “lower in places where people and motor vehicles mix”, to use the World Health Organisation terminology? I say that because I don’t see speeds which are too low in that context as being a problem, whereas speeds which are too high are a concern.

    Of course we must educate better. For example, for a learner driver to fail their test because they were ‘driving too slowly’ is not sending the right message. I also find it incredible that we are teaching people to drive based on their technical ability to steer, accelerate, brake etc, whereas almost all casualties are caused by poor judgement and decision-making, brought on by poor behaviour. Given that 17-20 year olds are ?7x as likely as other age groups to cause collisions, maybe simply raising the driving age is an easy win. I would also make bikeability training a compulsory part of the training.

    We must also design out roads better.

    So far, so agreeable (I hope). The 3 questions then come..

    Does education work? To an extent, but we have been doing that for decades and still casualties are too high

    Does improved road design help? Undoubtedly, but is it a cost that we are willing to bear. The AA, RAC, Institute of Advanced Motorists, the British Alliance of Drivers etc all seem to be against raising taxes to pay for it – they prefer answers that raise road speeds. I raised earlier the low benefit sought from spending £100m on our most dangerous roads, compared with spending the same on urban roads.

    Do lower speed limits lead to lower speeds? All the evidence that I have seen is they do. Your evidence is that they don’t, but I haven’t seen that. I would add that the advent of ISA will link speed limits and actual speeds more closely.


    Adrian Berendt, 20’s Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (1) | Disagree (11)
    --10

    Adrian, as I said, I think “200,000 casualties per year is a disgrace” (or even 170,883 as you have now reduced it to), I did *not* say they are an acceptable price – but they do need to be weighed in context and in proportion to the massive number of miles that are driven without incident.

    Sure cost is important, but the total cost of a measure is offset by the benefit delivered by the measure. So the cost of a measure which delivers little or no benefit, such as speed limit signs, is money down the drain. On the other hand, measures which deliver demonstrable benefits can be seen as a worthwhile investment.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (10) | Disagree (1)
    +9

    Charles – are you honestly saying that 170,883 (reported) casualties on our roads in 2017 is an acceptable price? And, you still refuse to answer the question about cost. Of course, roads should be designed so that life changing injuries are minimised, but until they are, what?


    Adrian Berendt, 20’s Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (2) | Disagree (8)
    --6

    Adrian, 200,000 casualties per year is a disgrace, even though it is only about one for every 1.6 million miles driven. The solution is appropriate speeds. The problem/disagreement is on how to achieve them.

    You seem to favour traditional speed limits, for which there is no apparent credible evidence of their effectiveness, and indeed much to show that they are effectively useless. I favour helping drivers to get their speeds right more often – a difficult task I know, given that, on average, they only get it wrong about once every 90,000 miles driven if we accept Hugh’s figure of there only being 10,000 collisions per day.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)
    +8

    Hugh, I said I think drivers “decide the safe speed at which to drive based on the inputs they receive from the roadside”. That doesn’t mean the information given by the road will always be correct or that there won’t be exceptional or unexpected situations that catch them out. They will leave a contingency for many of the potential gotchas, but some will inevitably result in a crash. This is where improved road environment and furniture design comes in – to give road users more pertinent and more relevant cues.

    We also need to acknowledge that, despite any laws and punishments we might devise, there will always be a percentage of wanton criminals and other negligent or compromised drivers who are prepared to take higher risks when driving, and who will therefore always be more likely to crash.

    According to the RAC Foundation, there are about 900 million miles driven each day on the UK’s road, which means that, given 10,000 collisions per day, there is an average of 1 for each 90,000 miles driven. I think that is quite a remarkable achievement – a credit to the aptitude and innate skill at judging and avoiding risks that most of us have.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (9) | Disagree (1)
    +8

    David – you haven’t answered the question. Safer for whom? In describing pedestrians as *hazards*, you amplify that you are simply looking from the viewpoint of the person driving a motor vehicle. Those walking and cycling are also road users and deserve more consideration, not just because they are employing less polluting and, in urban areas, more efficient forms of travel, but because they are more vulnerable.

    Charles – yes, of course redesign our urban roads to make casualty causing speeds impossible. But, you don’t address the cost issue. As Hugh says, if drivers are so reliable, why are there 200,000 reported (and according to the reports that I have read, 800,000 unreported) casualties each year in the UK? Fortunately, ISA will soon be here to help us in the very near future, providing we set the right speed limit for each road in the first place


    Adrian Berendt, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (3) | Disagree (11)
    --8

    Charles: if you genuinely believe that “(yes drivers very much *can* – and always do, if we are honest – decide the safe speed at which to drive based on the inputs they receive from the roadside)” can you explain why there are an estimated 10,000 collisions every day in the UK, if everyone is supposedly driving at their ‘safe speed’? If a driver can’t stop in time, it wasn’t a ‘safe speed’ – too many drivers can’t judge that well enough to be collision-free.


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (8)
    --5

    Adrian, the only way to measure the efficiency of speed limits is to measure traffic speeds where there are no other influences at play – such as traffic calming of one sort or another. If speed limits don’t work on their own without those other influences then what use are they? If they need traffic calming to ‘work’, then what’s their point – or do you honestly think traffic wouldn’t slow down at junctions, up hills, round sharp bends or through other traffic calming measures without accompanying speed limits?

    Admit it, traditional speed limits simply *do not work*, they do not make roads safer and because they have fixed numbers, they *cannot* deliver appropriate speeds or user friendly roads. What does work though (as alluded to in the article) are various forms of measures (narrow streets, cobbles, planters, market stalls, parked cars, dustbins, ponds, park benches, bollards, potholes, optical illusions, model children, short sight-lines, etc., etc., etc.) that act as very unignorable cues to drivers to proceed at their *self-chosen slower speed* (yes drivers very much *can* – and always do, if we are honest – decide the safe speed at which to drive based on the inputs they receive from the roadside).


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)
    +7

    > Safe for whom, David? The driver, or the child or elderly person trying to cross the road?

    There may be times where when a hazard is encountered on the roads, a driver feels that it is safe to reduce speed in order to mitigate this hazard. Unless that is you’d like to recommend driving with one’s cruise control blindly set to the speed limit in an area with potentially a high number of hazards?

    > I wonder about the word ‘encumbered’. Are you suggesting that roads encumbered by a 30mph speed limit should also be raised?

    As I’m sure you’re already aware from my previous musings on here, I believe that where required, roads should have justifiable limits set for the risks they possess. If a road allows for an intervention such as increasing the speed limit with justification, then why not?


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)
    +8

    RSGB editor. Please change the heading. The report specifically does NOT say that. Please check page 2, where it says that those reading the report should NOT draw that conclusion.

    “They (the sites chosen) are not representative of the level of speeding across the whole road network – which we would expect to be lower”

    AND

    “The 20mph free-flow sites have no traffic calming measures or other features to restrict speed, and tend to be through-roads, so are not typical of all 20mph.”

    Safe for whom, David? The driver, or the child or elderly person trying to cross the road? I wonder about the word ‘encumbered’. Are you suggesting that roads encumbered by a 30mph speed limit should also be raised?

    The DfT report specifically rules out extrapolating from the specific sites to the general, as Charles points out, particularly the 20mph sites chosen, which are not representative of most 20mph areas.

    If, Charles, you are suggesting that we should have no speed limits at all and let drivers decide the speed at which to drive, then we must accept that 1,800 people a year will die on our roads and 25,000 seriously injured. I don’t agree. Should we let drivers decide when they’ve drunk enough, or whether they need to check their tyres, or whether they capable of driving while texting?

    Alternatively, if you think that spending on roads should prioritise reducing speeds, particularly where people and motor vehicles mix, then we might agree, except that existing spending will cover a tiny fraction of the network.

    The UK government is spending £100m on the ‘most dangerous A roads’ with a target of reducing 72 KSIs per year. Assuming that it meets its targets (doubtful) and there is no law of diminishing returns (even more doubtful), the cost of saving just 10% of KSIs would be £3.5bn!

    By contrast, there are 7,500 KSIs on urban non A roads with a speed limit currently set at 30mph. To achieve the same reduction in casualties (72) would mean a reduction of just 1%. £100m spent on wide area 20mph would cover about 1/3 of the population. The means that you would need to show a casualty reduction of 3% in the areas covered by 20mph. All the evidence that I have seen points to casualty reductions in excess of 15%…leading me to conclude that wide area 20mph is 5x more effective than so-called targeted interventions.

    I’m happy to have my arithmetic challenged


    Adrian Berendt, 20’s Plenty for Kent, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (4) | Disagree (14)
    --10

    All that these statistics show us is that, for a given class of road, there is no correlation at all between traffic speeds and the presence, or absence, of speed limits. Or to put it another way: speed limits are not an effective way of controlling motor vehicle speeds.

    What we can deduce from the supplementary comment though, is that to control traffic speeds, what we actually need are: junctions, hills, sharp bends, speed enforcement cameras or other traffic calming measures – as speeds *do* correlate with the presence or absence of those.

    Perhaps we need to seriously contemplate forgetting (even abolishing?) speed limits, and to start looking to use the measures that will control traffic speeds. That way we could increase our chances of making our roads safer and more user friendly.


    Charles, Wells
    Agree (12) | Disagree (6)
    +6

    Welcome back, SPE01!

    A lower proportion of HGVs exceeding a speed limit prompted class speed limits for HGVs to be raised within England and Wales than what is occurring in free flowing 20mph limits.

    Anyhow, if a road which has been encumbered by a 20mph limit is seen as being free flowing (and thus, eligible to fit within this research), then its status must surely be reconsidered. Either return those to restricted status which are safe to be driven with consideration at 30mph, or spend considerable amounts of money engineering the road to fit an idealised 20mph limit.


    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (13) | Disagree (1)
    +12

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