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Removing powers from local communities will put lives at risk

Removing powers from local communitites will put lives at risk


With Friday’s news that Government plans to block councils imposing 20mph speed limits, RoSPA’s Steve Cole investigates whether it’s the right thing to do.


The rumour that Government is considering blocking councils imposing 20mph zones is deeply concerning. Only last week in the Department for Transport’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2022, it was clearly highlighted that motorist and pedestrian death rates in this country are still far too high. With 29,742 killed or seriously injured on the roads every year – the equivalent of 81 people per day, every day of the year, it’s clear to see that we are in dire need of the Government’s long-awaited road safety strategy.

Despite car manufacturers making significant efforts to improve vehicle safety, lack of Government strategy and funding means the number of people killed on our roads has reduced by just two per cent since 2012. When considering the (mean) percentage change in road deaths over several of our most recent decades, the most major drop came between 2010 and 2019 when there was a 43 per cent decrease in fatalities when compared to the decade previously (2000-2009). This was not due to just one factor, but multiple – improved vehicle safety, modernised infrastructure, and stricter legislation, such as lower speed limits in areas that needed them. Now, decades of progress have come to grinding halt.

We know that 20mph speed limits can result in 40 per cent fewer collisions and a seven-fold reduction in deaths. Local Government, local practitioners, local drivers, and local communities know their roads far better than Westminster and should therefore have the powers to make decisions about local speed limits. They should not be subject to blanket decision-making from any party in Westminster about their needs.

The debate on whether 20mph zones are ‘anti-motorist’ will rumble on, but the evidence tells us that slower speeds save lives – for both pedestrians and road users, which can only be a positive thing for motorists around the country. 


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