The efficacy of plans to introduce a blanket rollout of 20 mph zones in urban areas across the country have been questioned in the results of a new poll from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
Drivers up and down the country remain unconvinced regarding the suitability of a widespread replacement for 30 mph speed limits with new slower 20 mph restrictions, as they feel other measures could have a greater impact on overall road safety awareness.
Just 45 per cent of young motorists are in favour of the proposals, while support among older drivers drops to 36 per cent.
However, there were a number of exceptions where drivers showed high levels of support for the use of such measures, including outside schools (94 per cent) and in areas where a large number of pedestrians are likely to be found, such as near parks, shops and hospitals.
IAM chief executive Simon Best commented: “Drivers are not as negative about 20 mph speed limits as many commentators would have us believe. Those responding to our survey found it quite easy to stick to 20 and there is large scale support for 20 mph outside schools.
“However, most drivers don’t want 30 mph zones to be replaced with 20 mph in towns … Good design and widespread consultation is the key to the successful use of 20 mph zones as a road safety tool, because limits that match the road environment enforce themselves.”
At present, local authorities have the power to re-zone any routes they choose to lower speed limits without the need for consent from the secretary of state. As a result, many councils have already implemented widespread 20 mph zones across residential areas, as well as on routes that have been shown to be dangerous in the past.
The main perceived benefits of such schemes were highlighted in the IAM’s study as being increased safety for pedestrians (75 per cent supported this statement) and cyclists (25 per cent), while reducing noise and pollution were not believed to be important factors in the rollout of such plans.
However, motorists remain split on the effectiveness of such changes to save lives and, instead, many are in favour of improved levels of education for those found to have broken the law in the past.
Ensuring all drivers act in a responsible and sensible manner when taking to the roads is essential to reducing road casualty figures across the country and the IAM has argued that self-enforcement should play a greater role in future road safety initiatives than simply reducing speed limits.
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