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Drivers against blanket 20mph speed limit

Half of drivers oppose the idea of a blanket speed limit of 20mph in urban areas, according to survey by road safety charity.

They say speed kills, but it seems not everyone is convinced lowering the speed limit is the way forward. A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that more than half of motorists are against the idea of a blanket 20mph speed limit in urban areas.

55 per cent of younger drivers opposed the new lower speed limit, compared with 34 per cent of older drivers. A third of the 1,001 respondents said they were willing to embrace the idea, while a fifth said they undecided on the matter.

Even though there is strong opposition to lowering the further lowering speed limit, the survey revealed a dislike for the alternatives. The use of a 20mph speed limit sign was said to be twice as popular as using physical traffic calming methods like speed bumps and three times more popular than a speed camera.

One area where motorists can agree 20mph speed limits are only a good thing is outside schools, with 94 per cent claiming this would be a good idea. Areas with high volumes of pedestrians (hospitals, parks and shops) were also popular options, at 34 per cent.

Given the recent number of cyclists killed on UK roads, it’s surprising to note only a fifth of respondents believed it would be a positive move for two-wheeled commuters. Yet more than three quarters believe it would be of benefit to pedestrians. Pollution and noise were, perhaps unsurprisingly, viewed as unimportant.

20 per cent of drivers said they think police should enforce the new limit. 68 per cent said a ‘specially tailored re-education’ course should be given to those who speed up to 30mph in a 20mph zone.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists was keen to point out the difference between speed limits, which are applied to individual roads, and speed zones, which are a collection of streets. It said the former is not as effective as the latter.

“Drivers are not as negative about 20mph 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 20mph outside schoolsm” Institute of Advanced Motorists chief executive Simon Best commented.

Does tarring large areas with the 20mph brush make sense, or does it water down the effectiveness? Let us know your thoughts.


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