Rethink urged as 8 in 10 motorists ignore 20mph limits

Transport leaders in the Capital have been urged to look again at the 20mph policy. Picture: Greg Macvean
Transport leaders in the Capital have been urged to look again at the 20mph policy. Picture: Greg Macvean
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CITY transport bosses were today urged to rethink their 20mph zone policy after a national study found eight out of ten motorists ignored the safety-first speed limit.

Tory spokesman Nick Cook said the survey offered some of the strongest evidence yet that a “blanket” approach on a 20mph limit did not work.

The figures from the Department for Transport showed that across the UK 81 per of vehicles broke the 20mph speed cap.

Councillor Cook said: “These figures provide some of the strongest evidence yet that a blanket approach to 20mph speed limits – like the one imposed in Edinburgh – are simply not an effective means of improving road safety.

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“Local authorities elsewhere in the UK, like Manchester, have already been smart enough to recognise this and have halted rollout of their 20mph scheme accordingly.”

“This analysis makes it all the more regrettable that Edinburgh Council remains determined to blindly continue the rollout of a divisive and ineffective ‘one-size-fits-all’ scheme.

“The council should recognise the need to reconsider its approach before any more public money is wasted.”

He said motorists should not be treated as “reckless fools”. “In many cases they are clearly making a rational assessment that on too many roads, a 20mph limit is simply not required to drive safely.

“Instead, the council should deploy 20mph limits on a targeted basis, like outside schools, and make investment in tangible road safety measures like better pedestrian crossings and junction improvements.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research for motorists’ organisation IAM RoadSmart, said there was clearly a problem getting drivers to stick to the speed limit on the increasing number of roads with a 20mph limit.

He said: “We have always felt that blanket 20mph limits, enforced by signposts only, are simply not enough to convey the reason for slowing down to drivers. Targeting the worst locations with traffic calming is a much more effective way to make 20mph limits self-enforcing.

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“Our main concern is that widespread confusion over 20mph may be undermining a more general trend to slow down.”

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said he believed observance of the 20mph limit in Edinburgh was quite good. “But it’s still in the honeymoon period and the police and not cracking down on people. People have been quite law-abiding from what I’ve seen. We need to do a study to look at that. And police need to act if there is widespread disregard of the limit.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Changes to driver behaviour will inevitably take time to embed and we continue to work with the police to achieve this through road safety education, awareness raising and prevention activities. At this stage of the 20mph rollout it is too early to draw conclusions about the impact of the overall scheme, however evaluation of the South Edinburgh pilot area was encouraging and confirmed general support from the public for slower speeds.

“The most recent Edinburgh People Survey echoed this, with nearly two thirds of respondents stating they supported the 20mph rollout.”