Skip to main content

Road Safety (Norfolk)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The Petition of residents of South West Norfolk,

Declares that the safety of children and other pedestrians outside schools is vital; that the numbers of road fatalities per year is far too high, that the roads outside schools are particularly sensitive areas; that reducing the speed limit on roads past schools would be an effective way of addressing this.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider reducing the national speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour outside schools

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Christopher Fraser, Official Report, 17 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 502 .] [P000243]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 9 September 2008:

The Government supports and encourages the introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones on the roads around schools, but it may not always be practical to do so, for instance on roads with a strategic function.

Local traffic authorities are responsible for setting local speed limits and therefore have the power to introduce 20mph speed limits on any of their roads, if they believe it appropriate to do so. The Department’s role is to provide local authorities with guidance to ensure those speed limits are appropriately and consistently set.

The Department fully supports local authorities that wish to introduce 20mph speed limits and 20mph zones on their roads, particularly in residential areas where vulnerable road users, such as children, are likely to be present. This is reflected in our guidance to local authorities on setting local speed limits issued in August 2006.

It must also be recognised that simply reducing a speed limit does not automatically achieve a similar reduction in vehicle speeds unless proven traffic calming measures are also introduced. This is backed by research which shows that simply reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph without additional traffic calming only reduces vehicle speeds by around 1mph.

Typically, a 20mph zone will cover a number of roads, often incorporating school premises and must contain proven traffic calming measures within its parameters to physically force drivers to reduce their speeds. Research has shown that accident frequency fell by around 60% and the number of accidents involving children reduced by 67% where 20mph zones were introduced.

For these reasons the Department firmly believes that a local authority’s knowledge of the roads within their area means that they are better placed to decide which speed limits are appropriate for their roads as they will invariably understand local needs and conditions. I believe that this process will not only improve road safety but will also lead to increased respect for and compliance with speed limits.

We are collecting data on 20mph zones and will circulate to all Local Authorities in due course.