Local authorities ‘could enforce 20mph limits’

08.00 | 18 July 2018 | | 30 comments

Image: 20’s Plenty for Us via Twitter

A campaign group is encouraging local authorities to collaborate with police forces in order to enforce 20mph limits.

In a new briefing sheet, 20’s Plenty for Us sets out to debunk the ‘generally held view’ that it is only the police that can enforce speed limits, including 20mph limits.

20’s Plenty points to legislation which provides ‘appropriate scope for local authorities to institute criminal proceedings for speed limit violation’ – as long as it is authorised by a police force.

The campaign group adds that authorities can, by prior arrangement, use their powers – in collaboration with the police – to ‘initiate public prosecutions against speeding drivers’ and ‘identify registered keepers of vehicles’.

20’s Plenty says ‘sharing the burden’ for enforcing 20mph limits could free up police resources for other work – and could lead to a ‘transformational reduction in vehicle speed from increased compliance’.

Rod King MBE, founder and campaign director of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “Speeding blights our communities, causing fear and violation of our right to walk and cycle safely through our streets where we live, work, shop, play and learn.  

“With communities reaping the benefits of lower vehicle speeds with safer active travel, better public health, lower casualties and lower pollution then it is entirely appropriate that local authorities should work with police to share responsibilities for enforcement to provide enhanced compliance with 20mph limits.

“Such a move takes no power away from the police yet simply enables our places to be better places by providing a robust deterrent to drivers who fail to comply with speed limits set by democratically elected councillors.

“We believe that this is an area for constructive discussion between local authorities and police forces.”



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    Dear Mr, Mrs, or Ms Worthington

    Your gender is not significant other than as it appeared that you wished to address me with some miss-spelt “M King” then I presumed that a salutation was in order.

    However, putting that aside, let me look at the issue of comparing UK road safety stats with other countries. I would refer to the percentage of road fatalities that are pedestrians. Its a good measure of how actual risk is skewed. In the UK its is 25%. This ranks UK 21st behind Netherlands (8%), Norway, Iceland, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, France, Austria, Slovenia, Denmark, Italy, Greece,Czech Republic,Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal, Switzerland, and Bulgaria.

    You could also look at the stats for pedestrian deaths per million inhabitants. Here we do slightly better but at 7.1, but we 10th behind Netherlands (2.6), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Iceland, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

    These figures are for 20116. Source Eurostat. Also see http://www.travelindependent.org.uk/casualties_european.html

    So whilst UK may be very good at protecting drivers, at which we do seem to have an excellent record, those outside their vehicles fair far worse compared to other countries.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

    If it is as you say, that some other countries implemented the 30 km speed limit many, many years ago why do they still continue to suffer more RTAs and KSI’s than we do? We do not know the reasons why this measure was implemented but obviously you wish to use their decision as confirmation of your scheme where in fact the causation may have actually been an entirely different issue. However even with a 30 mph default limit in urban areas since the 1930’s we still appear to be in the top 4 within Europe and one of the safest countries in the world.

    One knows that comparisons are odious and that it can be dangerous and in general one should not make comparisons with other countries but we do. Only perhaps to support ones argument and perhaps as a last resort. Something which you obviously have done in order to support your premise that a reduction of speed in those countries and here in this country will return a significantly lower degree of casualty injuries but not necessarily in decreasing the number of incidents or collision. Unfortunately that does not as yet appear to be the case in the UK. The jury is still out after about 12 years of it first being implemented.

    Further it makes no matter what my gender is unless you may feel it might in some way benefit you in your dialogue with a female as opposed to a male. My gender is not an issue here. How does it matter from where I come. I have in the past been from Manchester now will that do.

    When it come to independent research then it matters first who pays for it or initiated the research and further what it was obviously intended to prove. For example if it was to prove that the 20 is plenty scheme works then the outcome would probably be very different than if it was asked to prove that the scheme didn’t work. Both results would be determined basically by the same factors but interpreted in different ways to prove or disprove whatever it was designed to support. So much for independent research.

    When it come to engineering then why has the results of manufacturing not brought about a safer front end to a vehicle. One that would cause a pedestrian to suffer less injury and not more. So far the outsider suffers the greatest degree of injury and that degree of suffering has not really changed with vehicle design even to the extent that some vehicles are worse now than what they were a decade or so ago.

    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    Dear M. Worthington. I am sorry I can’t address you as Mr. because your gender is as anonymous as your city.

    15 years before I started campaigning for 20mph limits, authorities in Europe had been implementing city-wide 30kmh limits without physical calming.

    The evidence is clear and established best practice from WHO, OECD, EU, iRAP, etc is for 30kmh limits.

    If I look in the mirror I only see myself. You may look in the mirror for inspiration, but I prefer to look at evidence, independent research, science and engineering.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

    Rod is right. Those who speed are a significant part of the ‘problem’ – not just in their lack of time to observe, react and stop but typically their attitude and behaviour behind the wheel in other respects means their own safety, their passengers safety and the safety of those around them is compromised. Those who don’t grasp that well.. I’m sorry to say, as Rod has intimated, they may well be part of the problem themselves, but haven’t realised it yet.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    Then I suggest you take a good long look into the mirror M.King as eventually it will be realised just how much harm and increased danger your scheme has and will cause.

    You are not part of the solution to the problem but just an additional cause to it.

    Time and history will tell.

    Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

    “persecute motorists for merely being over the speed limit”

    I often wonder whether some of those commenting on this site are “part of the problem” rather than “part of the solution”!

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

    Forget the dubious stats and data analysis Mr W. – use your powers of observation and watch every-day driver behaviour in the real world, as it happens! Also, bear in mind that those who fill out collision reports don’t actually witness the collisions first hand and – most significantly – Stats 19 data does not tell us what actually happened, only someone’s vague notion of ‘contributory factors’ that may have played a part in what ‘actually happened’ which, of course, we will never know anyway – it’s only part of the story and not a very accurate part at that.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

    Malcolm I am afraid that Highways England would disagree with you on your first sentence of your contribution. In their 2016 summary of RTAs it would appear that speed is not the major factor in most collisions and casualties. First is Failing to look properly, seconded by Failing to appreciate another’s speed or path and then……Following too close. Would you believe that…..Following too close. ie Tailgating.

    In eight’s place out of ten is travelling too fast for conditions [ not being over the speed limit ] and being over the speed limit is not shown in the top ten..

    If we continue to prosecute or persecute motorists for merely being over the speed limit we are not only alienating a vast number or the driving public but we are not actually addressing the real causation’s and greater problems that are the cause of by far the vast majority of incidents and collisions.

    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    I’m intrigued Charles, where are these roads? A list would be useful.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    Rod, the only way to sustainably ensure compliance with speed limits is to ensure that the design of the road and its environment inherently deliver that speed – i.e. that the speed limit is made redundant. You can find countless examples of safe and friendly road settings throughout the country where speeds are inherently appropriate (without the use of speed humps) and which do not require speed limits or speed limit enforcement. I think your energies could be more fruitfully used promoting the study and mimicking of those environments to the roads and streets which are currently largely unusable by pedestrians and cyclists, regardless of the speed limits imposed on them.

    Charles, England
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    It is universally recognised by road safety experts that speed is the major factor in causing crashes and that enforcement is needed to prevent speeding before all road vehicles have their speed controlled by remote monitoring.
    Until then the enforcement of speed limits will most likely be carried out by ANPR camera systems requiring no significant input from the beleaguered police or local authorities other than to chase up the payment of a fine.
    We need Road Minister to coordinate the disparate activities of police, local authorities and others in this vital area of public safety to see real progress made from the current stagnation in the face of austerity. A vital start can be made by setting targets for reducing the number of crashes that bring so much financial and personal cost to our communities.

    malcolm whitmore, loughborough
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

    One of the key functions of a speed limit is to inform drivers of risks and consequences of speed which otherwise they would not perceive. The idea that speed limits are only appropriate if they reflect what a driver or collection of drivers would perceive misses their whole point.

    And that’s why they are mandatory and why all speed limits should be enforced. If those agonising over the non-compliance of speed limits were to put their minds to ways of increasing compliance other than increasing speed limits then they would have greater credibility.

    In this briefing and press release we are being constructive about ways to increase compliance through wider enforcement of any limit on local authority roads.

    Rod King, Lymm, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

    Derek what you actually mean when you write that there is ‘no risk posed by vehicles travelling at 30 mph or even above’ is that there is no obvious or apparent risk. Risk assessment can be subjective or objective to different drivers. What appears possibly or potentially dangerous to one does not necessarily seem as dangerous to another. Where there are reasonable reasons for reducing speed limits as stated being around schools, hospitals, parks etc most drivers will in general acquiesce and drive slower. If however they cannot see or perceive a possible danger in regards to what they consider as being a reasonable speed then they will in the main disregard it and continue at whatever speed they deem to be necessary or reasonable.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    I have observed a very high level of driver conformance with 20 mph limits where they are appropriate and the risk level is high. The area around back streets of Barnet where there are 2 primary schools and double parking, the drivers are all moving at 20 mph or less. It is open clear stretches of road where these limits are not being observed because there is no risk posed by vehicles travelling at 30 or even above. Slowing down the entire road network in a costly speed reduction plan is pointless unless it is going to yield any benefit. It also takes no account of the driver fatigue longer journey times may cause. The latest proposal to slow down the entire London network is little more than a road safety fishing expedition. Let’s have both save and efficient roads please.

    Derek, Hertfordshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

    Tim: I think what perhaps is being overlooked – with no disrespect to the police – is that LA staff with a passion for collision and casualty reduction (it is their job after all) will be better able to put the message over to motorists directly, in away that the motorist will be more receptive to – a bit like a condensed, on-the-spot speed awareness course.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

    This article advocates Local Authorities enforcing speed limits by the use of penalties. This, like Decriminalised Parking Enforcement, requires an industrialised approach using specialised staff if it is to be done on an effective scale. Critically, it also involves no contact between the enforcer and the motorist at the point where the offence is committed, because to do so would compromise the efficiency of the operation, but more importantly because (so I understand) Local Authority Staff are not generally empowered to stop moving traffic. This is in itself a very hazardous thing to do and should only be undertaken by people trained and authorized, and ideally wearing a uniform that indicates so.

    If what is wanted is the educative aproach, it requires Police Officers to be present both to stop the traffic and to lend at least the illusion that a penalty might be delivered if the motorist does not adopt a reflective attitude. Time was that this kind of partnership was commonplace but even were resources to return to the level of those days, the labour-intensivity of the activity would still make it unlikely to be deliverable on an effective scale.

    Tim, West Midlands
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Two other points worth mentioning on this – firstly, two of the three ‘E’s: Education and Enforcement can be combined in one cost-effective operation and secondly, from experience, offending motorists are more receptive to messages given to them by non-police educationalists (for want of a better word) especially where a prosecution is feared, but not inevitable. The police can stop the vehicle and the road safety expert can give the message. The right message given in the right way goes a long way.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (7)

    Speed limits are a maximum, not a minimum speed. Until we enforce speed restrictions we already have in place and educate the minds of others and the responsibilities of handling the lethal weapon they are racing, it will not change attitudes. We need to protect the vulnerable and stamp on dangerous driving.

    FACT: The majority of motorists ignore speed limit signs.

    So good move.

    David Matthews, Northamptonshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (12)

    It’s not about having free time on their hands Pat, it would be as you say, prioritising their existing time and being most productive with it. RSOs spend a lot of their time educating potential victims, via publicity campaigns, school visits, etc. Why not spend that same time targeting the real villains of the piece and get the message direct to them?

    I would suggest more collisions/casualties can be prevented in an hour at the road-side speaking to drivers, than an hour in a school talking to a very small section of just one group of vulnerable road users. It’s active road safety versus passive road safety.

    As I said before, the will has to be there and I accept that some RSOs/Traffic staff will be keener on this than others. They wouldn’t have to work on their own – local neighbourhood policing generally have the same concerns from the communities they serve and in my experience are very willing to work with local RSOs and traffic staff on initiatives like this.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (13)

    The Local Authority officers I know don’t have free time on their hands. RSOs and others are continually ‘prioritising’ which, translated from management speak to the front line, means stopping doing some good things because other good things are more important.

    Enforcement would be a whole new ball game and would require more staff, the opposite of what is happening now as some people are losing their jobs to balance budgets.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (14) | Disagree (2)


    Legal opinions are always helpful.

    I think you will find that speeding is a criminal offence if it goes through to a court conviction. The payment of a FPN ceases the process of it going to court.

    If you are convicted of speeding then you will have a criminal conviction. However speeding by itself does not go on a criminal record.

    I think that the reason why local authorities are not doing it is because they hadn’t pieced together the links to consider it.

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

    The 20’s plenty for us article indicates “legislation MAY provide appropriate scope” to enforce speed limits but it seems to me a miss-match of extracts from different legislation documents pieced together. I would like a lawyer to give a legal opinion on this.

    Speeding isn’t a criminal offence. Criminal prosecutions carried out by local authorities relate to age restricted sales, food safety, school attendance and fly-tipping. LA’s will work closely with other regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute. The Traffic Management Act 2004 provides powers for LA’s to undertake civil enforcement of parking and bus lanes. Powers to enforce some moving traffic offences is limited to London boroughs.

    If this interpretation is indeed correct then why aren’t local authorities already undertaking speed enforcement?

    James Haywood, Woking
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    Following Tim’s observations, would it not just become a part of the appropriate Highway Authority staff’s duties anyway, in which case extra funding would not be needed? Local Authority Highway/Traffic departments usually have a speed gun available.

    As far as fines go, it does not have to lead to prosecutions and could be a presence on the road side and an informal chat with the offender, which can be effective – word soon spreads around neighbourhoods. If they work with the local neighbourhood police, certain hot spots will be known and can be targeted.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (20)

    The essential challenge for this proposition is one of resourcing. The notion that it could be funded from the public purse on any scale, let alone a scale needed to make a difference, is not currently realistic. Enforcement, previously done on a limited, targetted basis, would have to be done everywhere, needing a huge logistical and administrative setup, not least to deal with all the appeals by people who did not expect the law to be applied to themselves. Inevitably it would be questionable what value for money was being achieved, particularly in locations where there was no perceptible improvement achieved by 20mph limit.

    The alternative to the public purse would be to fund an operation from fine revenue. Aside from the inevitable carping about mercenary motives, the obvious problem is that success reduces revenue and therefore the ability to sustain the service. Decriminalised parking enforcement has not done away with nuisance parking, at best it gets deployed on a targetted basis to deal with priority locations, as I would expect to happen with any civilian speed enforcement.

    The only successful mass behaviour regulation by enforcement I know of is the Smoking Ban, which was achieved by enforcment not against the individual but against proprietors of premises. But I cannot envisage how to transfer that model to highways.

    Tim, West Midlands
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    I should have added that if this takes off, there’s no reason why 30 limits could not also be included for enforcement by LA Highway Authorities – whatever the limit, it’s not a bad idea to get feedback direct from motorists. Having said that, the will has to be there and some HAs will not be keen on this. I presume it will be road safety officers tasked with this?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (7)

    I get your drift Peter, but 1900kg is gross vehicle weight. Ford Focus empty is around 1300kg dependent on spec. 1900kg empty is definitely SUV territory

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

    We still operate a system where, through reason of evidence and assessment, we determine the most effective policy to ensure compliance with any new law. It may be a quaint and old fashioned view by most Councils who are the Highways Authority for their local roads, but we still expect speed limits to be obeyed without special police presence. And that frequently requires engineering.

    If a fair proportion of drivers are currently not obeying 30mph speed limits, why expect any better if we were to change them to signed only 20s?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (25) | Disagree (1)

    Sometimes I think that local authorities already enforce speed limits by the lack of pothole repairs! The original proposals for lower speeds in areas where vulnerable road users would be came in a report in 1935 between the Dept of Education and the Dept of Transport recommending that a proposed speed limit should take into account facilities such as schools and parks. That was in the day when vehicle weights were half or less than now. The kinetic energy formula is kinetic energy = 1⁄2 × mass × speed squared. Reducing the speed is the best solution but also reducing the mass would help.

    Back in 1934, just prior to the introduction of the 30mph speed limit, there were only around one-tenth of the cars on the road today, but four times as many associated deaths.

    There had previously been a blanket 20mph speed limit, set in the 1903 Motor Car Act, but it was repealed for light vehicles in 1930. The spate of deaths caused a change of heart in government in 1934 and 1935, with 30mph brought in for built-up areas.

    Maybe we should be reviewing what we mean by light vehicles especially as a Ford Focus weighs empty 1.9 tonnes and as for SUVs!!!

    Peter wilson, Westminster
    Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

    If the local highway authorities knew that they may also be enforcing the new 20 limits they create (the ad hoc ones, not the zones) and inevitably would be dealing with the public face-to-face, it will hopefully focus their minds on getting them right in the first place and not end up with the patchwork quilt of illogical 20s and 30s that I see locally.

    Default 20s for urban roads (with some obvious exceptions remaining 30) is the way to go, not randomly selected roads.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (13) | Disagree (16)

    Another clear admission by 20’s Plenty that 20mph speed limits do not have any effect on road safety. The arbitrary numbers on posts are evidently useless, otherwise enforcement would not be necessary.

    Why not save money by abandoning these ludicrous and politically motivated attempts to fool the (gullible) population that they will somehow work.

    The money should be spent on bringing all roads in line with the multitude of roads around the country which are sustainably (ie. do not need any ongoing activity or any enforcement at all to keep them working) safe and community friendly and which do not rely on speed limits or any other legal sanctions to keep them that way.

    Charles, England
    Agree (17) | Disagree (14)

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