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Campaign against 20 MPH speed limits

Why 20 MPH is Senseless

20 MPH speed limits are senseless because they do not improve road safety and have no other benefits whatsoever.

The Department for Transport (DfT) released a report in 2019 that shows there is no road safety benefit whatsoever from signed-only 20 mph schemes. In addition they have negligible impact on modal shift or on traffic speeds.

This was the long-awaited evidence that showed that enormous amounts of money are being wasted on implementing 20 mph schemes which could have been spent instead on more effective road safety measures such as road engineering or education. In London alone, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds have been spent on 20-mph signed-only schemes to no effect and nationwide it must run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This disappointing result is very similar to the result of a study of driver education courses now being used by the police to generate funds. Both that and 20 mph schemes have been advocated by those who know little about road safety and have not studied the evidence. The Alliance of British Drivers has long called for "evidence-based" road safety policies. We ask that this convincing evidence is not ignored.

There will no doubt be continuing calls for more enforcement of 20 MPH limits but that ignores the basic issue - namely that reducing traffic speeds simply has little impact on road casualty statistics because excessive speed is one of the lowest contributory factors to road accidents - in reality less than 5% according to police reported statistics.

The DfT report can be read here: DfT-Report.

Key paragraphs from the report are:

"The evidence available to date shows no significant change in the short term in collisions and casualties, in the majority of the case studies (including the aggregated set of residential case studies)."

"Journey speed analysis shows that the median speed has fallen by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre areas."

"The majority of resident (about two-thirds) and non-resident drivers (just over half) have not noticed a reduction in the speed of vehicles, and do not perceive there to be fewer vehicles driving at excessive speeds for the area."

Claims that 20 MPH speed limits encourage people to get out of their cars and cycle or walk more are also not substantiated by any evidence.

Before 1930 Great Britain had a blanket 20 mph speed limit across the whole country. But road deaths in the year before this limit was abandoned were about 7,300 compared with about 1,900 in recent years. They also fell in the years immediately after 1930 when they had been rising before.

Apart from the DfT report mentioned above, there are many reports on individual schemes in Portsmouth, Bristol, Manchester, Oxford, Hampshire, the City of London, and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham that show there is no benefit. See this ABD London page for more details: 20-Limits

But reducing speed limits does increase journey times for drivers slightly and 20 limits makes them vulnerable to speed limit vigilantes and police profiteering.

Is it really justifiable to impose 20 MPH limits such as on the road in Croydon shown above? The simple answer is NO.