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Number of crashes in 20mph zones increased in 2013

Serious and less serious accidents on the up on 20mph roads, according to road safety charity.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has said the number of serious crashes increased by 26 per cent in 2013 in the UK. Less serious accidents increased by 17 per cent, according to the road safety charity. Serious and less serious accidents decreased in 30mph and 40mph zones.

While this may look like a damning report for lower speed limits, the findings fail to reveal the exact increase in the number of 20mph zones across the country. The rise in accidents could merely be representative of how many new lower speed limits are now in play.

IAM chief executive Simon Best believes the government needs to do more than just change the number on a sign: “The government and councils need to take stock on the effectiveness of 20mph signs.  Recent advice, guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place.”

“More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they do not seem to be delivering fewer casualties. The IAM are concerned that this is because simply putting a sign on a road that still looks like a 30mph zone does not change driver behaviour,” he added.

IAM’s findings are at ends with another road safety charity. Brake said it saw a 54 per cent reduction in crashes in the area of Camden after 20mph zones were introduced.

“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,” Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said.

A recent survey found more than half of drivers are against a blanket 20mph speed limit in urban areas, but nearly all were in agreement for slowing drivers down outside schools.

Research by the Danish road authorities found raising speed limit can actually have a positive impact on safety. The research found it was the gap between the slowest drivers and fastest motorists that caused accidents and not speed itself.

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