Should All Urban Roads Be 20mph?

Wed 21st Jul 2021

Speed limits in towns and cities across the UK could be reduced to a maximum of 20mph if road research expert evidence is taken seriously by the government.

A team of specialists from the fields of science, engineering and the future of transport have grouped together under the auspices of the Transport Research Laboratory to lead the calls to make what would be one of the biggest changes to motoring in British driving history.

The accepted and recognised speed limit in urban areas is generally 30mph and has been for 65 years, however many parts of the UK are now operating under 20mph zones, up to half of the roads in London according to data published by the Sunday Times.

But the Transport Research Laboratory want to push for a reduced limit.

“Current guidance and regulation around 30mph default roads is completely out of date: we need to be thinking about 20mph,” TRL director, Richard Cuerden told The Sunday Times.

“Until recently, we talked about traffic accidents and accepted that people were killed or injured on our roads as a consequence of going about their daily life. It is not acceptable to us any more.”

Road safety campaigners have argued for some time that switching to 20mph will save thousands of lives, with the 20s Plenty group pointing out that for every reduction of 1mph there is a 6 per cent reduction in accidents. Where 20mph zones have been implemented in areas of London, an estimated 42 per cent reduction in casualties was seen.

Speaking last year, the 20s Plenty Founder Rod King said: “The increasing evidence from local authorities who have already implemented wide area 20mph limits shows clear benefits on casualty reduction. This is coupled with evidence and recommendations from global organisations such as WHO, OECD and iRAP that 30kmh/20mph limits are the only safe speed limit where pedestrians and cyclists mix with motor vehicles.

There really can be little argument against 20mph as the limit for most urban and village roads. Local and national government should stop “kicking the can down the road” on replacing an 80 year old 30mph limit, that never had any scientific basis, with one appropriate for the 21st century. Our communities need a national default 20mph limit for urban and village roads now.”