Twenty is plenty
16 May, 2008
According to The Times today the government wants to reduce road traffic accidents. Consequently it wants to introduce more 20mph zones as these are much safer than the present 30mph limit. The government is right to do this but it should take the argument and implementation further.
The government’s right to say that 20mph zones will save lives but they will also be more attractive places to live and if you bring the limit down further to 10mph parents will be much happier to let their kids play out. What may start out as a bid to improve road safety may end up being good for child social skills and health.
Introducing 20 mph limits for schools at the start and end of the school day has two major drawbacks. Firstly it assumes the only need for protection from motor transport is for small kids outside a school. The reality is that drivers tend not to be to discriminating in who or where they hit and the wider public also need protection.
Secondly changing the speed limit all the time confuses drivers and encourages them to break the law. What we should be aiming for is a standard national speed limit in residential areas of 20mph so we can develop a culture where people not cars come first. Where it is safe to walk and cycle and a pleasant environment to live in.
We shouldn’t just use speed cameras in order to enforce the speed limit but also social pressure. It should be as unacceptable to kill while speeding at the wheel as it is while drunk. If we can get this policy right then we can all benefit from a healthier and safer environment.