Pace for People

Slowing down for childrenWhen cars were invented, someone had to walk in front waving a red flag as a warning. The speed limit was two miles per hour in towns. Then the limit was raised to 14mph, then 20mph, then 30mph. Road space became unsafe for a mix of vehicles and people on foot and bicycles. Car use rose, deaths and injuries rose, and cycling and walking reduced dramatically due to fear. 

Pace for People is a campaign to reduce and enforce the speed limit in our towns, in order to reduce casualties, reduce fear of cycling and walking, reduce pollution and improve health through active travel. It's something that government can do, now, to save lives and the climate.

We have three simple campaign calls:

1. Lower default speed limits where people live and on rural roads

We want a reduction in the default speed limit where people live from 30mph to 20mph. At 30mph, stopping distances can be twice those at 20mph. The World Health Organisation agrees that 20mph is a maximum top speed in communities. About a quarter of Britain's urban environments have already gone 20. We need to speed up the pace of change and make 20 the default wherever people live.

Rural roads are not race tracks. These are the roads where many vehicle occupant, cyclist and motorcycle deaths happen. Often these are speed-related, for example in head-on, overtaking collisions, or when vehicles run off the road. A 60mph default limit is too high for many of these roads. Brake is calling for an urgent review of speed limits on all rural roads (excepting motorways) with speed limits set for safety and consideration of a lower default limit.

Having lower default limits would not stop authorities implementing higher or lower limits on particular roads. However, lower default limits provide authorities with a safer starting point, from which different speed limits can be set. For example, some rural roads are extremely narrow country lanes that need even lower limits. Others are wider and have a range of engineering features, such as barriers, that mean they are closer in design to motorways. It should be the responsibility of the authorities (local authorities and Highways England) to consider deviations from defaults, with safety considerations at the heart of decisions.

2 Comprehensive speed enforcement

It is well established that speed enforcement, through cameras, reduces speed. But it isn't consistent. Limited camera presence means that many drivers feel they would be unlucky to get caught. Instead, there should be an expectation that if we speed, we will get caught at some point on any given journey. There shouldn't just be enforcement where there is known to be a speeding problem, or there has been a cluster of casualties.

3. Voluntary 'Intelligent Speed Adaptation' to be fitted by law to all new vehicles.

Voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation is a technology that can be required, by a new law, to be fitted to new vehicles. This law is currently under consideration for legislation by the EC as part of its review of vehicle safety regulations. Voluntary ISA means vehicles 'know' the speed limit (through being connected to a virtual GPS “map” of speed limits and/or cameras that can spot speed limit signs). The system will automatically prevent a vehicle breaking a speed limit unless the driver purposely over-rides the system.

Learn more about 20 mph limits

Read our research report on the extent of 20mph limits in Great Britain and the barriers faced by local councils in implementing them. Find out more in our GO 20 policy briefing (March 2014) and about the GO 20 coalition. Get the facts on speed and 20mph limits.  Test your knowledge with our GO 20 quiz

Learn more about ISA 

Go to our fact sheet on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems including ISA. You can also read about the current EC vehicle safety standards regulatory review

Take action 

Share the campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ using the buttons at the top of the page. Tweet your support: @Brakecharity 

Campaign for 20mph in your community using Brake's toolkit on reducing speed limits in communities, Brake's campaigning tool kit and tools and advice from 20's Plenty for Us

Write to your MP asking them to support the campaign

Make a personal Pledge to slow down to protect people, or to encourage others to do so

Sign up to our monthly bulletin for updates on our campaigns and how you can help

Fundraise to support Brake's campaigns and vital support work

Sign up for the UK's flagship road safety event, Road Safety Week, in November 2017 on the theme of speed

Campaign news

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, 01/09/2016
Brake responds to Cycling and Walking consultation, 24/05/2016
New London Mayor backs urban 20mph speed limits, 10/05/2016 
Brake’s junior campaigners say “speeding is naughty” as almost half of drivers admit breaking 20 mph limits, 08/03/2016

'GO 20' interactive quiz launched to promote the benefits of 20mph limits
, 30/11/2015
Government red tape puts brakes on 20mph limits, 29/09/2015
Brake urges strong leadership as people on foot and bike pay the price, 25/06/2015 
I would walk 60,000 miles: 100,000 kids across the UK walk for road safety, 10/06/2015
AM wins road safety award as charity calls on Welsh Government to lead way on 20mph limits, 09/06/2015
Risky overtaking forces one in seven drivers to take evasive action, 26/05/2015 
Brake asks politicians and drivers to #SaveKidsLives as Global Road Safety Week begins, 01/05/2015 
Campaign urges drivers to slow down as 3 in 5 parents report speeding around child's school, 18/03/2015
Safety concerns are barrier to delivering walking and cycling benefits, says charity, 10/02/2015 
Zak the Zebra backs Aylesbury school road safety plea, 26/01/2015
Brake welcomes 20mph limits across Edinburgh, 08/01/2015