Scotland: report examines potential impact of urban 20mph limit

11.16 | 20 September 2018 | | 6 comments

Phase three of Edinburgh’s 20mph scheme went live in August 2017

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.”



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    If you are just going to punish people for transgressions, then you really have come to the end? I’ve been through the whole circus. From educating teenagers that were dumped on me by school department heads who treated my classes as ‘sin bins’. Disruptive pupils that they couldn’t engage with? Better they disrupt a non mainstream class eh? Well I can assure you, there were some who were deadheads, and were a complete waste of time. Others who actually liked the fact they got to ride mopeds. How I laughed when a young ‘hard man’ told me he didn’t need no training as he bragged he rode a ‘scrambler’ in front of his peers! He then proceeded to run a Honda C90 smack into a wall! Once the arrogance was knocked out of him, he was one of my best pupils.

    Yes some people will never learn. Then it’s up to the lawmakers to impose draconian measures on persistent offenders. That’s not really the mission of road safety professionals is it? What happened to the 4 E’s? Though you might be a keen proponent of the enforcement E?

    I’m all for harsher sentences for idiots. It cannot be used as the only tool in the toolbox? A hammer is no use for fine adjusting of valve clearances is it? I know people who would try it, and be shocked that it didn’t work? So we are left with doing nothing about driving standards or ignorance of what’s safe to do from crossing the road to overtake another vehicle on a motorway safety? Other than fine people or ban them, rather than look at getting through to those who can understand the cause & effects of poor driving etc. Is it not better to take 100 bad drivers & end up with 70 better drivers, 10 reasonable drivers, & 20 who’s skills you know are poor & move to remove them from the road? A driving license is no longer a right, it’s a privilege. Political parties will never support any changes to the law to bring this sea change, as that would lose them votes, and therefore power. In Britain road users haven’t organised themselves into a political force, unlike in some other countries. If they did every government would fold to their demands like a pack of cards!

    I don’t have all the answers. If I did I’d be running the country wouldn’t I? All I’ve got is some ideas that people can kick about, or ridicule as they see fit? Fortunately I no longer have anything to do with road safety, as I realised a long time ago, that in its current state, it has the same effect as rearranging the deckchairs on the RMS Titanic…

    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    Some road users are immune to education Sandy, that is the problem – in fact with some, the more you preach, the more they do their own thing. More money will not help in those situations. My view is that if you can’t treat the causes, you have to treat the symptoms. There cant be any motorists who don’t know about the illegality and stupidity of drink-driving, ‘phone use, speeding etc. but still they do it! If you know the root cause of that, fine, we’d all like to know – in the meantime, detect and penalise will have to do – at least it potentially gets them banned and out of harms way.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Good questions Mr Jones?
    To whom do we look to for funding for what is a national issue?
    As for education, I certainly remember with clarity that Road Safety begins in schools? It certainly was the case as I was growing up?
    In secondary schools there was ‘vehicular studies’ where 4th & 5th year pupils, were educated on the Highway Code, traffic law, driving & riding skills?
    The whole process of education & certainly road safety should be continual, indeed lifelong. If we look at driving licences, an eye check on the day of your test, at say 18 and your next one when you reach your 70th birthday? Seriously?
    What about a doctor passing you fit to drive? This decision based on what?
    The whole ethos of road safety is based on what?
    Reactive legislation, which with the right applicant of resources could be greatly reduced!
    Don’t treat the symptoms of poor road safety, treat the root causes! Only then will you see a reduction of all forms of ‘bad behaviour’.
    As the Westminster Government continues to redirect (misappropriate) Vehicle Excise Duty, (Formerly Road Fund License, previously Road Tax!) & insurance companies ramp up vast profits from insurance premiums. Might it not be a good investment for both the treasury & insurers to give something back into the community? This would pay dividends in reducing accidents & claims? People shouldn’t die of ignorance, but that is what we foster in this nation. Let’s change it. Clued up pedestrians, cyclists, drivers & riders can only be a positive step, or get the red flags & whistles ready!

    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    What would you recommend the emphasis be in the ‘ROAD SAFETY PLAN FIT FOR THE 21st CENTURY’ Mr Allan? It’s all very well asking for ‘BETTER ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION’ but by whom, to whom and again, what should the emphasis be? I see road users everyday whose road sense leaves a lot to be desired, but how are the authorities to identify them and educate them to fulfill ‘BETTER ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION’?

    For example, lowering vehicle speeds of those individuals’ who drive too fast is critical and lowering speed limits is a bit of a sledgehammer approach, as those individuals won’t ‘get it’ and the problem remains, so what sort of ‘BETTER ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION’ would work in that context?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    Whilst elements within both the government & road safety community continue to believe that reducing speed limits is the answer to lowering accident figures? Perhaps having someone walk in front of your vehicle waving a red flag & blowing a whistle will further reduce accident figures? In the age of the horse, and even the tram, people still got hurt, injured, or died!

    As we now live in the culture of who to blame, can I suggest that the best & most effective way to reduce accidents is (if I may be so daring to suggest it?) BETTER ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION? BETTER TRAINING FOR ALL ROAD USER GROUPS? Whilst the Driving Standards Agency & it’s replace The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency state as a ‘mission statement’ ‘SAFE DRIVING FOR LIFE’.

    In reality most individuals never have any further contact once the ‘basic test’ has been passed. When people add other license groups they are sitting the same old tired & past it’s usefulness test which has its origins in the 1930’s.

    As for cyclists? Again most people have never done the NATIONAL CYCLING PROFICIENCY TEST. Again a government initiative which was brought in to reduce accident figures for school children? This like everything else has been abandoned due to ‘austerity’. My own experience of its ‘local’ replacement, is this. Both of my children are keen cyclists. One received training, the other due to a reduction of available money.

    I’m an ardent supporter of road safety, having been involved with it since becoming a motorcycle instructor in the RAF 1982, and working for BITER in local secondary schools in the mid 80’s. What I have never supported is poorly funded, and targeted attempts at limited sections of road user groups! If any government was genuinely serious about saving lives, they would allocate the proper funding ON A NATIONAL SCALE! Instead of wringing it’s hands, and taking or supporting continuously recidivist actions!

    We need a ROAD SAFETY PLAN FIT FOR THE 21st CENTURY, not a plan lacking vision and scope!

    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

    As cyclists are seen as vulnerable road users who are expected to benefit from lower urban limits, perhaps the opportunity should be taken for legislation to be passed where they are also obliged to observe these same lower speed limits (and other traffic laws while we’re at it). I’ve been in situations on suburban roads where a cyclist is itching to pass me, making me constantly check the interior and both outside mirrors wondering where they are and having to slow down to almost walking pace, which only exacerbates the situation.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (9) | Disagree (10)

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