Eight in 10 back 20mph limits as charity takes campaign to parliament

2 April 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Overwhelming public support for 20mph limits is revealed today by road safety charity Brake and Allianz Insurance, whose survey shows eight in 10 people (78%) think 20mph should be the norm around schools, on residential streets, and in village, town and city centres. The news comes as Brake takes its GO 20 campaign for safe, active, happy communities to parliament, calling on politicians to support the introduction of 20mph as the default urban speed limit.

The Brake and Allianz Insurance survey also found:

  • Seven in 10 (72%) say roads in their town or village need to be made safer for walking and cycling;
  • Eight in 10 (81%) say traffic travels too fast on some (51%) or most (30%) of their local roads;
  • Eight in 10 (79%) think it would encourage more people to walk or cycle if roads and routes in their town or village were made safer.

Speakers at the Brake and Allianz Insurance GO 20 parliamentary reception today (2 April) will discuss the benefits of 20mph limits and progress being made by local authorities in implementing them. Speakers include road safety minister Robert Goodwill MP and bereaved dad Dave Britt, speaking about how a 20mph speed limit could have saved his son's life. More details in case study below.

With an estimated 12.5 million people in the UK now living in areas implementing or committed to widespread 20mph limits [1], Brake argues the country is reaching a tipping point where it makes social and economic sense to make a national change in our default, to the benefit of communities everywhere.

Areas that have already introduced 20mph limits have seen significant reductions in casualties, such as Portsmouth where they fell by 22% [2], and Camden, where crashes reduced by 54% [3]. Other high profile local authorities now GOing 20 include the City of London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

20mph limits also promise to deliver improvements in public health and social activity, and reductions in congestion, pollution and noise, as more people feel safe to walk and cycle for local journeys, commuting or simply for enjoyment [4]. Making streets safer and more pleasant for walking and cycling can also benefit local economies. More details on the benefits of GOing 20 below.

As well as calling on national government to change the default urban limit to 20mph, Brake continues to encourage and support local authorities to GO 20 through implementing widespread 20 limits across cities, towns and villages. Drivers can also help protect people on foot and bike right away, by slowing down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph.

Brake is urging members of the public to write to their MP to support the GO 20 campaign and Pledge to GO 20 themselves. Tweet your support: @Brakecharity, hashtag #GO20.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "The GO 20 campaign is about defending everyone's right to walk and cycle freely without being endangered, whether it's to get to work, school, the shops, or just getting out and being active. We need to tackle the senseless and violent casualties that continue to happen daily on our roads, and we need to enable people to live healthy, active, social lives. It's clear that 20mph limits in communities can help bring this about - and it's clear this is what people want. That's why so many local authorities are making the switch from 30mph to 20mph. With many people already reaping the benefits of living in 20mph areas, we're reaching a point where it makes no sense to retain 30mph as the default limit in built-up areas. It's time for the government to GO 20 nationally, to save councils money and help create safe, active, happy communities nationwide."

Jon Dye, chief executive, Allianz Insurance, said: "Public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of reducing the urban speed limit to 20mph and this should act as a powerful force for change. The government's own report states that approximately half of pedestrian fatalities occur at 30mph impact speed or below [5], and that even small reductions in impact speed can have a large effect on the risk of fatal injury.

"Allianz is committed to improving road safety across the world and is currently involved in a variety of initiatives in 31 countries across the globe. Allianz is the only global company with its own research centre for automotive analysis and testing. The Allianz Centre for Technology has conducted research on a variety of road safety issues and campaigned on a variety of related topics. Allianz is also a proud supporter of the UN's 'Decade of Road Safety 2011 – 2020' initiative."

Facts
20mph limits lead to:

  • Fewer casualties: drivers have more time to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone: stopping distances at 20mph are about half those at 30mph [6]. Children benefit especially, since they struggle to judge the speed of vehicles over 20mph [7]. Areas where 20mph limits have replaced 30mph limits have seen significant reductions in casualties [8] [9], such as 22% in Portsmouth [10], and Camden where crashes dropped by 54% in trial areas [11].
  • Healthy, active lifestyles: less fast traffic makes people feel safer, which encourages more walking and cycling. Where widespread 20mph limits have been introduced, walking and cycling has increased, including by 20% in Bristol [12]. This means better health and prevention of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes [13], and less strain on the NHS.
  • Sociable communities: 20mph limits help turn our streets from soulless thoroughfares for traffic to enjoyable social spaces where people live. Lower traffic speeds (and traffic volumes) have been shown to improve the 'sociability' of streets: people get out more and are more likely to know their neighbours [14] [15].
  • Less pollution: more people walking and cycling means less traffic and more carbon-free journeys. 20mph limits also reduce pollution by causing vehicles to travel at a more consistent speed, with less of the speeding up and slowing down that produces most vehicle emissions [16]. For the same reason, journey times are barely affected; in fact, they may be smoother and use less petrol.
  • Lower costs: every road death in the UK is estimated to cost £1.7 million [17]. Fewer casualties mean less strain on the NHS and emergency services as well as preventing families suffering emotional and financial devastation. Add the public health benefits of more walking and cycling, and introducing 20mph limits ultimately pays for itself many times over [18].

Calls for government action
Brake is calling on government to acknowledge that we have reached the tipping point where it is time to change the national default urban speed limit to 20mph, thereby reducing the cost of implementation for cash-strapped local authorities.

In the meantime, Brake continues to encourage more local authorities to join the growing numbers that have already implemented widespread 20mph limits in their areas.

Brake's advice
Brake appeals to all drivers to make a difference by slowing down to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph. This gives you much more time to react in an emergency and avoid hitting someone, with stopping distances at 20mph about half those at 30mph [19]. It can also make your journeys smoother, with less speeding up and slowing down, so you'll barely notice a difference in journey times, and will probably use less petrol and have less vehicle wear.

Case study
Aaron Britt, 16, from Mansfield, had just started a BTECH extended diploma in IT when he was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver outside his college in October 2011. He had hoped to become a computer game designer. Aaron was walking from college to meet his mum, Sue; as he crossed the 30mph limit road outside his college he was struck by a car travelling at 35mph or more. He hit the bonnet and windscreen and was thrown up and over the car, travelling 33 metres through the air before coming to rest on the road. Aaron suffered serious head injuries and was taken to hospital, where he died hours later.

Dave Britt, Aaron's dad, said: "Aaron was our only son and we feel empty without him. He was an exceptional young lad; he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life and had set about making it happen. If the road outside Aaron's college had a 20mph limit, the car that hit him would not have been traveling so fast and would have had a much better chance of avoiding him; he could still be with us today. Making 20mph the norm in communities would prevent more people losing their lives needlessly, and stop other families going through the pain and heartache we have. Aaron was kind and thoughtful and did not deserve to die for making a mistake."

About the survey
This survey was carried out on Brake's behalf by Surveygoo Research in February 2014, and consisted of a representative sample of 1,000 UK adults.

Full results
Q1. Do you think roads in your town/city/village (or in towns/villages in your area) need to be made safer for walking and cycling?
• 72% said yes
• 28% said no

Q2. Do you think it would encourage more people to walk or cycle if roads and routes in your town/city/village (or in towns/villages in your area) were made safer?
• 79% said yes
• 21% said no

Q3. Do you think traffic in your town/city/village (or in towns/villages in your area) is too fast for the safety of children and adults on foot and bicycle?
• 30% said yes, on most local roads
• 51% said yes, on some local roads
• 20% said no, the traffic isn't too fast

Q4. Do you think 20mph should be the norm around schools, on residential streets, and in village, town and city centres?
• 78% said yes
• 22% said no

Q5. Do you think there should be more 20mph limits in towns, cities and villages to make it safer for people to walk and cycle?
• 63% said yes
• 37% said no

Q6. Do you think the default urban limit should be changed from 30mph to 20mph, with the option for local authorities to retain higher speeds on main through roads?
• 53% said yes
• 47% said no

Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Allianz Insurance
Allianz Insurance is one of the largest general insurers in the country and part of the Allianz Group.

Together with its customers and sales partners, the Allianz Group is one of the strongest financial communities. Around 83million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz's knowledge, global reach, capital strength and solidity to help them make the most of financial opportunities and to avoid and safeguard themselves against risks.

End notes
[1] It's Time for 20 – Time for DfT to end the needless imposition of 20mph repeater signs and be more flexible, 20's Plenty for Us, 2014
[2] Interim Evaluation of the Implementation of 20 mph Speed Limits in Portsmouth, Department for Transport, 2010
[3] Borough-wide 20mph speed limit, Camden Council, 2013, http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/speed-limits.en
[4] Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012
[5] Relationship Between Speed and Risk of Fatal Injury: Pedestrians and Car Occupants, Transport Research Laboratory, Department of Transport 2010
[6] The Highway Code, Driving Standards Agency, 2007
[7] Reduced sensitivity to visual looming inflates the risk posed by speeding vehicles when children try to cross the road, University of London, 2011
[8] 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001
[9] 20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010
[10] Interim Evaluation of the Implementation of 20 mph Speed Limits in Portsmouth, Department for Transport, 2010
[11] Borough-wide 20mph speed limit, Camden Council, 2013, http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/speed-limits.en
[12] Where widespread 20mph limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20%. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012
[13] At least five a week – evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health – a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004
[14] The contribution of good public spaces to social integration in urban neighbourhoods, Daniel Sauter & Marco Hüttenmoser, Swiss National Science Foundation, 2006
[15] Driven to excess, Joshua Hart, University of the West of England, 2008
[16] Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999
[17] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012
[18] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of the cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the World Health Organisation's Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in cost to health as a result of 20mph. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012
[19] The Highway Code, Driving Standards Agency, 2007