7 Speed limits |
44. Local authorities have found 20 mph zones
to be a useful tool to improve road safety, particularly by reducing
pedestrian or cyclist casualties.
For example, impact with a vehicle at 20 mph is survivable, but
at 30 mph most pedestrians would sustain fatal injuries.
The Government states that:
We plan to revise and reissue the guidance on speed
limits in urban areas with the aim of increasing flexibility for
local authorities. We will provide an economic tool to help them
to assess the full costs and benefits of any proposed schemes.
We expect this toolkit to help local authorities to make robustly
defensible decisions about local speeds.
45. There is evidence of significant public support
for these zones.
However, securing the resources to implement them can be an issue.
Sustrans noted that "it has been very expensive to put in
a zone in the past".
In particular, additional police resources may be required to
enforce lower speed limits.
We heard of the difficulty in prioritising resources under conditions
of broader police cuts and that policing 20 mph zones is "just
another drain on the resources".
ACPO told us that "inevitably, as pressure is applied to
police resources, as anywhere else, some decisions may be taken
as to what effort and energy resources will be put into dealing
with road safety and making sure that that is dealt with on a
threat and risk basis."
ACPO advises that 20 mph zones should be instituted only
in areas where other measures had been taken to make them largely
self-policing because if "it does not feel or look like it
should be a 20 mph limit, then the vast majority of drivers will
46. The Government expects the road safety agenda
to intersect with a number of policy areas. For example, the
strategy makes reference to both health and sustainable travel
We heard about the importance of agencies working in partnership.
One area in which this approach has been reflected is the implementation
of 20 mph zones. We heard from Liverpool City Council about its
work with the Primary Care Trust to fund the introduction of 20
mph zones in residential areas. We welcome the development of
innovative working methods to help fund these zones at a local
Government should encourage the development of inter-agency partnerships
and include examples of best practice in securing joint working
in its forthcoming guidance for local authorities.
47. We heard a range of views regarding the possibility
that the Government may raise the motorway speed limit to 80 mph,
including many witnesses who worried that the proposals would
result in more deaths on the road.
We also heard concerns that drivers would be encouraged to push
beyond this limit.
Mr Penning informed us that a consultation period would begin
soon. There had been extensive discussion, but the DfT was "not
quite there yet" in terms of finalising the proposals.
 He hinted
that options for consultation included maintaining some parts
of the motorway at existing speed limits
and stricter enforcement of the 80 mph limit than was currently
the practice for the 70 mph limit.
that as part of its consultation the Government calculates the
costs associated with stricter enforcement of an 80 mph limit
and creating more variable speed limits on sections of the motorway
network deemed inappropriate to see an increase to 80 mph.
We will be interested to see the consultation that emerges from
the Department's evidence gathering process. The
possibility of increasing the motorway speed limit has been discussed
since September 2011, it is now time for the DfT to publish its
consultation document or to explain the reason for delay.
48. The Secretary of State has powers to change
the motorway speed limit by statutory instrument without parliamentary
control. To ensure
that there is adequate opportunity for parliamentary oversight,
the Government should ensure
that any decision to increase the speed limit should follow a
debate in the House on a votable motion.
126 Strategic Framework p 37, Q 50, Q 424 James
Ev 141 para 13, Ev w28 para 27 Back
Strategic Framework p 37 Back
Q 50 Back
Q 50 Back
Q 50 Back
Q 162 Back
Q 247 Back
Q 247 Back
Strategic Framework p9 Back
Ev w28 para 29 Back
Q 106, Q 107 Back
Q 347 Back
Q 345 Back
Q 351 Back
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/27/contents
Part VI s.124 Back