24 per cent drop in road casualties since 20mph rolled out in Edinburgh

Launch of the 20mph zones in Edinburgh city centre.Launch of the 20mph zones in Edinburgh city centre.
Launch of the 20mph zones in Edinburgh city centre.
THERE are nearly a quarter less casulties on the Capital's roads since the 20mph speed limit was rolled out.

Latest figures reveal 24 percent less casualties between October and December last year - dropping from 1,067 to 809 compared to the same period the previous year.

Nearly a third less people are also being killed or seriously injured.

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There were 103 fatal or serious casualties between October and December - compared to 147 over the same period the previous year.

The startling statistics prompted Edinburgh’s top policeman to suggest the 20mph roll-out may have contributed to the 30 percent drop.

“20mph speed limits may well have played some part in that,” said Temporary Chief Superintendent, Richard Thomas.

“They’re not always being adhered to, but they’ve modified driving in the city - we’re seeing more careful driving in the city.

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“They’re having a calming effect on driver behaviour and we’ve seen fewer casualties.”

Though Mr Thomas said only a targeted study would prove any link between reduced speed limits and fewer casualties.

This included a 23 percent fall in the number of slight injuries suffered - from 920 to 706.

New 20mph speed limits were rolled out city-wide last August at a cost of £2.2 million in a bid to make the city’s roads safer.

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Drivers caught flouting the limit face the threat of £100 fines and three penalty points.

The scheme proved controversial and saw party leaders clash in the lead-up to last May’s city elections.

City transport chiefs welcomed the drop in casualty numbers - which was the aim of the 20mph roll-out.

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “These statistics are extremely welcome.

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“Research shows that lower speed limits reduce the number and severity of accidents on our roads, which is what we hope to achieve by reducing the speed limit to 20mph over most of the city.

“It has always been our intention to create calmer, more welcoming streets across the Capital and, most importantly, to ensure the public’s safety.”

Cllr Macinnes said research suggests lower speeds cause fewer injuries - while also encouraging healthier lifestyles.

“The fact that anyone hit at 20mph is seven times more likely to survive than someone struck at 30mph is something we can’t ignore,” she added.

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“What’s more, by calming traffic on shopping and residential streets, we’re encouraging more people to walk and cycle, improving health and enhancing our environment.

“So it’s clear why we, along with an increasing number of cities across the UK and further afield, are choosing to lower speed limits.”

Edinburgh University is working on a study while Cllr Macinnes promised the council’s own research into the impact of 20mph zones.

“As we move to become Scotland’s first 20mph city, we will ourselves be closely monitoring the impact the speed limit change has on the city, and will be reporting this to committee in due course,” she said.

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“For the meantime, I am pleased to see that drivers are taking care when travelling through Edinburgh, to the benefit of all road users.”

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell also welcomed the figures - and predicted further drops in casualty numbers.

“”It’s a very promising snapshot,” he told the Evening News. “I think if you look at other parts of Scotland that have rolled out 20 mph to residential streets, it shows over time greater speed reduction and greater reductions in casualties.

“If it’s an early sign that 20mph limits have had some effect, then that’s great. I expect more to come in the long-term - greater reductions and greater numbers walking and cycling.”