Introducing a 20mph limit on urban roads in Scotland could lead to a 13.5% reduction in casualties, according to a new report.
The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) report presents three different potential scenarios – based on speed reductions observed in 20mph schemes in Bristol and central Edinburgh – and the resulting anticipated casualty reductions.
The report was developed in response to a call for evidence in the lead up to a forthcoming Scottish Parliament Member’s Bill proposing the introduction of a 20mph limit in urban settings across the country.
Scenario one is based on the average speed reductions seen since the introduction of a permanent 20mph scheme in Bristol. It predicts a 13.5% reduction in casualties across Scotland (755 fewer casualties), including five fewer fatalities, associated with savings of £39.9m per year.
Scenario two – described as a ‘middle estimate’ – is based on the average speed reductions observed in a 20mph pilot scheme in parts of Edinburgh. It anticipates a 9.5% reduction in casualties (531 fewer casualties), including three fewer fatalities and an annual saving of £27.1m.
The final scenario – a lower estimate – shows the reduction in overall casualties needed to save one life. The scenario is based on a 2.6% reduction in casualties (145 fewer casualties, including one fatality) and a saving of £7.8m per year.
The report says the successful introduction of a 20mph speed limit on urban roads in Scotland would be ‘impacted by different local contexts’ and the effectiveness of ‘complementary activities’ including communication, behaviour change campaigns, supportive policing and enforcement.
Bruce Whyte, public health programme manager at the GCPH and author of the report, said: “Reducing road traffic speed in our towns and cities will save lives and reduce the number of people injured on our roads, particularly among more vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.
“Lowering the average road speed will make roads safer and help to encourage more people to walk and cycle, contributing to greater physical activity, better air quality and reduced carbon emissions.
“A safer lower speed environment around schools would also encourage more children to walk, cycle and scoot to school and would help to embed every day active travel at any early age.”