Speed surveys show that 20mph zones may be too slow

Lowering the speed limit is one of many traffic calming measures applied across the country. In many cases, speed limits are reduced from 30mph to 20mph, and this tends to be in particularly busy residential areas or around local amenities such as schools and shops, where there is more pedestrian traffic. However, in some cases, speed surveys show that most traffic exceeds this low limit, so is 20mph too slow?

Bristol speed survey highlights issues

An example of this has been raised in Bristol, where a number of new 20mph zones were introduced across the city during the course of 2015. Campaigners in the areas where the new limit has come into force say that most drivers are ignoring the limit, and the changes simply aren’t working. A recent study by the Bristol Post showed that nine out of 10 vehicles, including council vehicles, exceeded the speed limit, with an average speed of 28 mph.

The campaigners believe that rather than impose blanket speed limits, each area should be considered separately – whilst a 20mph limit might be right for some roads, others might benefit from other speed reduction methods such as changes to the road layout, and more traditional traffic calming measures.

When does a speed survey help?

It’s not just cars going too fast that can cause problems. Traffic that moves too slowly creates bottlenecks and traffic jams resulting in longer journey times and frayed tempers. Drivers may be tempted to overtake in dangerous places, or tailgate other drivers, making the road even more dangerous than it was under a higher speed limit. A speed survey will help to see what average speeds are being used in a particular area, and highlight where other measures may be a safer way to protect both road users, pedestrians and residents.

Speed surveys from RDS

At Road Data Services, we conduct a wide range of surveys from speed surveys to journey times and pedestrian safety. Each survey is tailored to your needs and we can present the data in any format you choose. Our surveys are used to help make important decisions about traffic management, road layout, the planning of new developments, pedestrian and cycle safety and much more. To find out how we can help with your project, please contact us today.


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