RoSPA on 20mph zones: Removing powers from local communities will put lives at risk
News / Fri 29th Sep 2023 at 10:39am
ROSPA is deeply concerned by reports of Sunak’s plans to block councils imposing 20mph speed limits , particularly as only yesterday figures showed that motorist and pedestrian death rates in this country are still too high.
Steve Cole, Executive Head of Policy, Campaigns, and Public Affairs at RoSPA, said: “Local practitioners and their communities know their roads far better than Westminster and should therefore have the powers to make decisions about local speed limits.
“The evidence shows that local decision making about road safety including 20mph zones is both essential and effective in reducing deaths, and we do not believe that local communities should be subject to blanket decision making from Westminster about their needs.
“It’s important that communities feel safe, and as it is estimated that 20mph speed limits can result in 40 per cent fewer collisions and a seven-fold reduction in deaths
“By removing powers from local communities, the Government are putting drivers and pedestrians at risk and should instead be focusing efforts on assessing the evidence and delivering its long-awaited road safety strategy.”
Commenting on yesterday’s Reported Road Casualties Report, Rebecca Guy, Road Safety Manager, England at RoSPA, said:
“The data paints a grim picture of road safety in Great Britain, with 29,742 killed or seriously injured on the roads every year – the equivalent of 1,000 coaches full of people, or 81 people per day, every day of the year.
“RoSPA is deeply concerned that despite car manufacturers making significant efforts to improve vehicle safety, lack of Government strategy and funding means the number of people killed on our roads has reduced by just two per cent since 2012.
“While car occupants accounted for most road casualties in 2022, the highest casualty rates per billion miles travelled were for motorcyclists, indicating that a person is more likely to be injured on the road when travelling by motorcycle.
“The distinct lack of progress in publishing a road safety strategy since 2019 is deeply concerning, and we urge the Government to publish a clear, evidence-based road safety strategy, before more people are killed on the roads.”
Some of this article is selective. Below is a link to government data on pedestrian deaths and injuries in the uk. Please bear in mind we have a population of 70 million. You can make your own conclusions. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-pedestrian-factsheet-2022/reported-road-casualties-in-great-britain-pedestrian-factsheet-2022
Guy even one death is one too many: talk to families. The problems are not so much speed but by far, extremely bad road design the loose nuts behind the wheel. Also car design has indeed improved but not enough: there's technology that prevents any vehicle being driven above the local speed limits but for some unfathomable reason the law doesn't make it being fitted to all uk cars compulsory.
Life is a risk. Can we legislate for that? Probably not,but it won’t stop some people trying. I was actually surprised that the death toll, while sad for those involved, was as low as it is. 4-500 out of a population of 65-70 million for those that don’t want to look at the statistics.
Looking only at pedestrian deaths understates the problem in several ways. Most obviously, it excludes all deaths by other road users. In a debate concerning speed limits in the 20-30mph range you can probably expect a minimal effect on deaths of people in cars but the number of deaths of cyclists and motorcyclist could be seriously impacted. Second, the roughly 400 pedestrian deaths a year are accompanied by roughly 6000 seriously injured a year, a proportion of whom will suffer permanent disability or illness as a result and all of whom will require immediate medical treatment and in almost all cases suffer weeks or months of pain and inability to work or enjoy their usual hobbies (see list below for what is considered a serious injury). Third, fast moving traffic affects the behaviour of residents through fear of injury or death when using their local streets. This can affect things like children’s ability to cycle or walk to school unaccompanied or residents willingness to commute by walking or cycling. Especially given this last point which is very dependent on knowledge of local context and geography, decisions about 20mph zones seem likely to be better made locally than by central government. List of severe injuries included for context: Broken neck or back; Severe head injury, unconscious; Severe chest injury, any difficulty breathing; Internal injuries; Multiple severe injuries, unconscious; Loss of arm or leg (or part); Fractured pelvis or upper leg; Other chest injury (not bruising); Deep penetrating wound; Multiple severe injuries, conscious; Fractured lower leg / ankle / foot; Fractured arm / collarbone / hand; Deep cuts / lacerations; Other head injury