Opponents of wide-area 20mph speed limits rely on various myths that need to be busted! Have a look at some of the myths and the reality below.
Myth: 20mph journey times are far greater than 30mph.
Reality: 20mph doesn’t significantly alter trip times or inconvenience drivers. Traffic jams and stops do. Constant 30mph is rare due to bends, junctions etc. Going fast between obstructions = extra wait at next stop.
Myth: 20mph is OK near schools in term time at drop off and pick up times only.
Reality: 80% of child casualties happen non-school trips. Families need wide area limits for child protection from road injury – their top risk. Older people are even more likely to die or be seriously injured – 20mph is 10 times safer (than 30mph) for 60+yr olds compared to 7x for others.
Myth: Variable limits only OK, e.g., not at night.
Reality: Variable limit digital signs are costly & can’t go on a wide network. So limits end up inconsistent, confusing & don’t reduce fear of speed or increase active travel significantly.
Myth: Casualties fall, but what about Killed & Serious Injuries KSI?
Reality: Detractors cherry pick data, pointing to raised KSIs in some places – by tiny, insignificant amounts. KSIs are rare events. Small datasets are unreliable. In most 20mph places KSI fall along with total casualties.
Myth: Numbers of injuries on 20mph roads.
Reality: The number and length of 20mph roads is rising (and 30mph roads falling). Absolute numbers of injuries on 20mph roads could rise, whilst casualties per km fall. Denominator matters!
Myth: Income generation from fines.
Reality: Compliance is by engagement, pacer vehicles, speed watch volunteers, warning letters, speed awareness courses, occasional enforcement days with a few Fixed Penalty Notices & very rare points or prosecutions http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/Press_Releases/Police_Toughen_20mph_Limit_Enforcement_Guidance.pdf
Myth: Speedometer watching is distracting.
Reality: Drivers must check their speed whatever the limit. Speedometer checking should happen at 20 & 30 & 40mph, especially in urban areas. Highway Code.
Myth: Drivers don’t obey 30mph and won’t obey 20mph.
Reality: Average and faster road speeds decrease eg in Portsmouth by 6-7 mph slower on previously 25mph+ roads. Even 1mph matters. Every 1mph less reduces casualties and severities by 6%.