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Does the UK Need More 20mph Speed Limit Zones?

We’re personal injury lawyers with years of experience across the spectrum of accident compensation. Something we like to keep tabs on is the flow of popular opinion on subjects relating to our fields of expertise, like speed limits.

Speeding is a key cause of road accidents in the UK, but what can be done? Some campaigners feel it’s time we all slowed down a bit on Britain’s roads.

According to research by the Scottish government – The Speeding Driver: Who, How and Why? (SG Stradling et al, Scottish Executive Social Research Findings No. 170/2003, 2003) – British drivers who habitually speed are around twice as likely to have been involved in a crash recently.

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest an enforced 20mph speed limit can significantly reduce the number of accidents on the roads. Hull City Council introduced 20mph speed limits at numerous accident black spots and saw a 74% decrease in crashes involving pedestrians in the three years after compared to the three previous.

And according to the Transport Research Agency (TRL) a reduction in average speeds across Britain’s roads of just 1mph could cut crash rates by 5%. The evidence is clear – lower speeds lead to less accidents.

Community Safety

Safety within the community is linked with overall happiness. Our communities need to function as places where every member of that community can move around safely. Research by road safety charity, Brake, indicates that speeds of over 20mph make pedestrians and cyclists feel unsafe near the road. Recommendations listed by Brake include 20mph zones on all residential streets, near schools and shops, and near community centres like churches, halls and activity venues.

There is also evidence to suggest that a 20mph speed limit can even make people more likely to maintain a friendly relationship with neighbours and local people. When we’re on great terms with the folks in our community, overall well-being and happiness improves.

Road Traffic Accidents

Here are a couple of facts and figures we believe can help clarify the stance on why a 20mph speed limit can reduce everything from fatal accidents to accident compensation claims.

1. Drivers often think their braking distance is much less than it actually is. The average breaking distance of a car travelling at 30mph is 23m – 6 car lengths. Slow down to 20mph and you’re looking at a breaking distance of 12m – 3 car lengths.

2. Drivers often underestimate how quickly their car slows down. For example, a car travelling at any speed will still be moving at 70% it’s original speed when half way through the breaking distance. That means travelling at 30mph and breaking will mean still moving at 21mph after 12.5m. By travelling at 20mph, you can cut that to 14mph after 6m.

As accident compensation specialists, we follow campaigns and proposed legislation with deep interest. Slowing down could not only save lives, it could make our roads  safer places in terms of minor accidents too.