Following an extensive consultation, the DfT last week (18 January) published new guidance to help councils set more appropriate speed limits on local roads.
The new guidance has been warmly welcomed by the 20’s Plenty for Us campaign, but strongly criticised by the Association of British Drivers (ABD).
The updated guidance – unveiled by Stephen Hammond, road safety minister – is intended to help local councils implement more consistent speed limits on local roads, and incorporates recent changes that create more flexibility for authorities to implement 20mph limits and zones.
It is to be used for setting speed limits on single and dual carriageway roads in both urban and rural areas.
Stephen Hammond said: “We want to see safe roads which meet the needs of everyone, so it is vital that councils have clear and consistent guidance to help them set appropriate speed limits on their roads.
“Local councils should set speed limits based on their local knowledge and on the views of the community. That is why we have launched an online toolkit alongside our new guidance to help councils make the best decisions for their local areas.”
The new guidance has been welcomed by the 20’s Plenty for Us campaign. Rod King, campaign director, said: “This publication marks a further step forward in the DfT developing its guidance to reflect what many local authorities are already adopting as ‘best practice’ by implementing wide area 20mph limits for most of their urban and residential roads.
“It is becoming clear that once a local authority fully considers all of its road users and its community needs, then the only sensible solution is that 20 is plenty where people live, work, shop, learn, walk, and cycle.”
In contrast, the ABD says that the new guidance “may result in 50% of drivers exceeding the speed limit on many roads”.
An ABD statement said: “This new recommendation will ensure that many road users perceive any limit set by using this new criteria as unrealistic and hence they are likely to ignore it.
“Regrettably, the DfT has kowtowed to anti-car groups who do not understand the technical factors that determine the optimum speed at which traffic should flow for maximum road safety. The 85th percentile is best for determining the safest and most cost-effective speed limit.”
The new guidance has been published following an extensive consultation which was held last year, the results of which are published on the DfT website.
An online toolkit will enable local councils to calculate the potential costs and benefits of implementing new speed limits. The launch of this toolkit fulfils a commitment in the DfT ‘Strategic framework for road safety’ published in 2010.
Click here to read the full DfT news release.