Dear Editor The letter from the chairman of the Drivers’ Alliance published on April 8 demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety of road users.
The groups who support 20 mph default speed limits are not anti-car, but are supportive of better safety and equity of rights for all road users, reduced costs to the economy, reducing congestion and improving the urban environment and people’s general health.
Lowering the speed limit will not lead to further frustration, as it will improve traffic flow and encourage more people to use other forms of transport, therefore reducing frustration.
Also, if loss of concentration is a factor, then it is better that drivers lose it at 20 mph than at 30 mph, as a pedestrian hit at 20 mph has a 95 per cent chance of survival and the transition from minor to major injuries occurs at 20 mph. Just driving at 5 miles over the current 30 mph limit increases the chances of killing a pedestrian to 50 per cent.
So, maybe cars are safer than ever, but for drivers and passengers, not pedestrians and cyclists. In this country, a child pedestrian is three times more likely to die on our roads than in Italy. While there has been a reduction in road casualties, this has been much smaller for cyclists and pedestrians than for car occupants.
Hull council, which introduced a 20 mph limit in residential areas, saw a 74 per cent reduction in crashes involving child pedestrians and a 69 per cent reduction in child cycle collisions in the three years since the zones’ introduction, compared with the three years before the limit changed. Overall, there has been a 90 per cent reduction in serious and fatal injuries, and a 60 per cent overall decrease of all casualties.
The fear of increased journey times is unfounded, as Islington, where the scheme has also been introduced, found that it added only 3 minutes on the average journey to work.
Is that three minutes really worth thousands of road casualties a year?
Joint Campaigns Coordinator, Birmingham Friends of the Earth