Road group calls for 20 mph town limits

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LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) Speed limits in all towns and built-up areas should be reduced to 20 mph to cut the number of people hurt in accidents, according to a safety group.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), a group that advises MPs and peers, also said in a report that new, average-speed cameras should be introduced to monitor speeds below the usual 30 mph limit.

The number of road deaths has fallen from around 7,000 a year in 1964 to about 3,200, thanks to safety measures such as the compulsory wearing of seatbelts.

The government has said it wants a 40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents by 2010 compared to the figures from the mid-1990s.

''Recent trends suggest that our performance is 'flatlining'.

Deaths have not fallen as sharply as serious injuries,'' MPs Peter Bottomley and Louise Ellman, PACTS parliamentary co-chairmen, said in a foreword to the report.

''In particular, deaths involving drinking and driving, failure to wear a seat-belt or driving too fast (whether for the conditions or the speed limit) have failed to fall at all.

''Now is the time to consider what further work we need to do beyond 2010 and what policy approaches we need to adopt as we near the end of the current round of casualty reduction.'' Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed which argues against the use of speed cameras, said there was no need for new limits.

''We don't need more regulation. We don't need more speed management,'' he said.

''These policies have failed in spades. We need better drivers through education, information, and above all improved road safety culture.'' The report said that a majority of road safety professionals thought that Britons did not like too many safety measures.

''Many believed that, at a philosophical level, road use contains inherent risk, that an aspiration to remove all risk of death and serious injury was not helpful and that it would not fit the British psyche','' it said.

PACTS also recommended that any residential developments should be subject to the ''pint of milk test'' -- whereby a resident should be able to reach a shop to buy milk in less than 10 minutes without using a vehicle.

It also said any new road pricing schemes should include an analysis of the effect on traffic dispersal.

The report is called ''Beyond 2010 -- a holistic approach to road safety in Great Britain''.

REUTERS GL BD1551

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