30mph speed limits might seem glacially slow to some drivers, but there have been calls to drop the residential maximum to just 20mph.
The Liberal Democrats have urged English councils to “actively consider” dropping the limit to 20mph in areas comprising residential streets – a plan that aims to decrease the 600 fatalities and 12,000 injuries that occur each year on 30mph roads.
Lewes, East Sussex councillor Sarah Osborne put forward the idea at the Lib Dem conference yesterday, but it was slightly amended amid fears the original proposal would ignore the wishes of local councils. The original proposal asked for a switch to 20mph phased in over 10 years, with 10 per cent of roads changed to the lower limit every year. However this was amended after party members agreed the process should be driven by local councils rather than the government, and should not be mandatory.
Mark Valladares, a Lib Dem councillor from Bury St Edmunds, claimed a system entirely controlled by Whitehall would prove “well-meaning but flawed”. “It imposes one solution on councils regardless of their size, regardless of their circumstances, regardless of their needs,” he said.
Although the idea of a lower speed limit might make some drivers irate, Ms Osborne said such limits were actually being accepted around the country: “It is hard to find anyone in a 20mph area who wants it put back to 30mph,” she claimed.
Citing “compelling evidence” that dropping the limit in residential areas by 10mph would have a positive effect on fatality and injury rates, Ms Osborne said: “Getting safely to school or the shops should not be a lottery. Every child deserves a safe route.”
According to the councillor, a drop in the speed limit not only made roads safer, but also reduced emissions and congestion levels. The positives, she said, far outweigh the taxpayers money needed to put up speed new speed limit road signs.
What are your views on a 20mph speed limit? Would you be happier driving a bit slower if it meant fewer accidents, lower emissions and lower fuel bills? Or are you totally against the idea? Let us know in the comments below.