Brake says schools want ‘GO 20’ for safer streets

12.00 | 7 May 2013 | | 11 comments

To coincide with the launch of the Second UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May), Brake has published a survey showing that 77% of teachers feel compelled to actively campaign to make local roads safer for children.

Brake says that the survey of 500 UK primary schools published today (7 May) reveals that teachers are “deeply concerned” about pupils’ ability to walk or cycle safely to school. Brake says the survey results add to “growing calls for all communities to ‘GO 20’ by switching to 20mph limits”.

The survey showed that 92% of schools think local roads need to be made safer for children to walk and cycle; 81% want 20mph limits around the school and on routes connecting the school with local homes, while 12% say they already have 20mph limits.

During the Second UN Global Road Safety Week, Brake, alongside a ‘GO 20’ coalition of 11 charities, is calling for steps to enable children to walk or cycle without fear or threat from fast traffic. The steps the partners are lobbying for include asking the Government to work towards 20mph being the norm in all communities; more local authorities to implement 20mph limits across towns, cities and villages; and drivers to pledge to GO 20 or below around homes, schools and shops.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, said: “Schools know what’s important for kids, and they are telling us road safety is a massive issue for them. It’s telling that so many schools are actively campaigning for safer streets, showing there’s a lot more we can do to protect children’s right to walk and cycle safely.

“One of the best ways to protect kids on foot and bike is to slow maximum traffic speeds to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, to create a safe haven for walking and cycling.

“‘GOing 20’ makes our communities nicer places to be, enables people of all ages to get out and about on foot and bike, improves health, and saves lives. As the UN’s Global Road Safety Week kicks off, we are appealing to Government, local authorities and drivers around the UK to put children’s safety and wellbeing first, and GO 20.”

Commenting in a Brake press release, Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, said: “We want to see safe roads which meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – that is why we want to see all councils looking at whether 20mph speed limits could help improve safety on their roads, particularly near schools and residential areas.

“Speed limits should be set by councils based on their local knowledge and the views of the local community, but to help councils further we have provided an online toolkit and new guidance to help them make the best decisions for their area.”

For more information about the GO 20 campaign visit:


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    I have never come across or heard of a driver who “always drives at the speed limit despite the circumstance”, equally I have never heard of or come across a driver who “stares at the speedometer while trying to maintain a speed”. Are these drivers myths, legend or do they really exist? I do believe they are a figment of the speedsters imagination. If I am mistaken then those who claim they exist can always point such drivers out.

    Steve, Kendal
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    Are the teachers whoa are “deeply concerned” about pupils’ ability to walk or cycle safely to school banging on the doors of road safety officers across the country? As to the 20mph issue we need to identify where children are involved in accidents as in my part of London it is not the roads near schools, it is near the shops. Maybe shop windows should be coverd up so drivers and pedestrians are not distracted.

    Peter Westminster
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    @Paul from London.

    Just to clarify, I was referring to drivers who watch the speedometer continuously rather than watching the road around them. There are other factors that cause injuries/fatalities at any speed, such as:-

    • Lack of observation (eg. pedestrians walking straight into moving traffic, drivers/cyclists not watching the road around them)

    • Walking/driving/cycling under the influence.

    • Walking/driving/cycling whilst using a hand held device/reading newspapers, etc.

    I don’t condone speeding nor driving too fast for the road conditions, but I definitely condemn road users who are inconsiderate to each other (regardless of type). That is why I think a different approach is needed.

    Phil, Kent
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    In fairness to Rod he has acknowledged the small sample size issue and it is going to be impossible for him to answer the questions you raise within the 150 word limit we request for posts. Also, the pair of you have had a lengthy debate on the topic of 20mph limits on another current discussion thread:

    For these reasons can I suggest we invite other readers to air their views on the subject of the ‘GO20’ campaign.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed
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    I have been asking Rod King of evidence that 20mph improves road safety and he has provided some numbers for Warrington.

    Quite apart from the small sample sizes, the questions remain – how did the pilot compare to national trends and traffic volume?, what other changes occurred in the area other than the change of speed limit?, and what years are we talking about? (assuming his numbers were the “best” two years, what happened during the other years?).

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
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    Let’s not forget what a speed limit is. It’s the highway/traffic authority – whether local or national – simply saying that for a given road character, it is desirable that speeds do not exceed ‘x’ mph. That is not to say that it is inevitably catastrophic if it was exceeded, or that safety is guaranteed if it were not. It strives for a balance between reasonable progress and being able to avoid other errant road users by being able to stop in time – especially in urban areas.

    My concern with 20 is, as Paul alluded to, unthinking motorists who drive at posted speed limits wrongly presuming them to be the optimum or recommended speed or, heaven forbid, the ‘safe’ speed at all times. In some residential roads there are circumstances when walking pace would be the order of the day – not 20mph – so you wouldn’t even need to check the speedo.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    @Phil, Kent.

    Did you not read Rod King’s empirical statistical findings just below? They have proven record of reducing accidents wherever installed.

    No pedestrian in the UK can afford to be “complacent” about road safety because plenty of people think 20 limits don’t apply to them.

    And do you think you can drive at 30, or 40, without checking your speed? Possibly you can – by visual or aural clues such as engine tone, but if so you can just as easily do it at 20 as at any other speed.

    Paul, London
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    I think the 20 mph “zones” should consist of temporary speed limits, which should only be used outside schools when they are entering/leaving schools. That would be a proportionate use of such a speed limit.

    Widespread use of 20 mph “zones” does not improve road safety for the following reasons:-

    • Pedestrians become complacent about their own road safety.

    • 20 “zones” cause drivers to continuously watch their speedometers rather than the road.

    Is it about time that these “charities” start to focus on “watch the road!” rather than being obsessive about numerical speed?

    Phil, Kent
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    One of the largest pilot implementations of 20mph limits was in the Orford area of Warrington which included about 100 roads. It was found that when adjusted for equivalent casualty reduction in other parts of the town then:-
    Serious injuries reduced from 3.5 to 2
    Slight injuries reduced from 25.5 to 21

    For vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) the unadjusted figures were:-
    Serious injuries reduced from 3 to 2
    Slight injuries reduced from 14 to 9

    Of course we all recognise that there are issues with small sample sizes and their statistical significance.

    Road Safety goes far beyond direct casualties and the “pace” of traffic has a bearing on quality of life, independent mobility, active travel, accessibility.

    When reviewing the results in detail and with its understanding of the local issues then Warrington Borough Council, like every other local authority piloting wide-area 20mph limits, came to the conclusion that a full authority-wide roll out be recommended.

    Rod King – 20’s Plenty for Us, Cheshire
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    A very local and specific example of the debate here:

    Stephen Bell, Sale, Cheshire
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    It would be good to improve safety near schools but we have to be very careful. Accident rates for children going to school are extremely low already so alterations are unlikely to produce much improvement, and have the strong potential to make things worse.

    Following every area that has implemented 20mph limits that I know of, serious injury rates have increased, and surely Brake must know that this has occurred. As the evidence stands at the moment, we can either campaign for better road safety, or we can campaign for 20mph, knowing it is likely to put more people into hospital.

    Of course the answer is to implement 20mph in “Randomized Controlled Trials”. Then we could roll out 20mph with confidence, or spend the huge sums of money on other schemes that actual work, dependent on the results.

    Dave, Slough
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