20mph zones help reduce road casualties, research shows

A study of areas with 20mph zones has confirmed that they are effective in reducing the number and severity of traffic collisions and casualties.

Low speed ‘zones’ use traffic calming measures such as speed humps and road narrowing in addition to signs showing the speed limit.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast reviewed 11 studies on 20mph zone or speed limit interventions and public health outcomes (collisions, casualties, mode of transport, noise pollution, air quality, inequalities and liveability). They found that 20mph zones reduce collisions by 41% and serious and fatal injuries by up to 46%.

“The primary reason for the introduction of interventions to reduce traffic speed is to lessen the likelihood of a collision occurring, and to reduce the severity of road traffic casualties,” said Dr Ruth Hunter from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.

“Our findings show a growing body of evidence to support the use of 20mph zones, showing them to be effective in reducing the number and severity of collisions and casualties. Our research also found an increase in participants walking and children cycling spontaneously in 20mph zones, indicating the potential indirect positive impact on physical activity.”

Dr Andy Cope from walking and cycling charity Sustrans added: “Lowering vehicle speed in built-up residential areas to 20mph not only improves safety for our most vulnerable road users, but it can also help to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles making our streets and places more attractive for people to walk, cycle and enjoy. This is why we strongly support UK-wide 20mph default speed zones in built-up areas.”

The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, has been published in the Journal of Transport and Health.
A man sitting in his car with his hands on his head

What’s the penalty for speeding in a 20mph zone?

The punishment depends on the amount by which you exceeded the speed limit but is a minimum £100 fine plus three points when driving up to 30mph, four to six points at 31-40mph and six points at 41mph and above.

For minor offences the police may offer you the chance to take a speed awareness course, instead of receiving a fine and penalty points.

Have you been caught driving over the speed limit? Get a quote for convicted driver insurance from the Insurance Factory. We never judge and we always treat you as an individual, looking at your circumstances to arrange the right cover for you.