Lower speed limits fail to reduce accidents

We're regularly warned about the dangers of driving too fast on Britain's roads and speed cameras are growing in numbers. But according to an official report by the Department of Transport, reducing the speed limit doesn't necessarily reduce the number of accidents.

30mph sign
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Portsmouth recently reduced the limit to 20mph in residential streets but the citywide scheme failed to significantly improve road safety.

In fact, the number of people killed or seriously injured actually increased when the limit was reduced.

The analysis revealed that the average number of people killed or seriously injured each year in the city rose from 18.7 to 19.9 since the launch of the scheme back in 2007.

Other towns and cities across Britain had been planning to follow suit but this new report will damage the case for a reduction in speed limits.

However, studies have shown in the past that 20mph zones where other traffic-calming measures are in place produced the biggest reduction in drivers' speeds but Portsmouth relied on motorists to obey the speed limits without cameras or speed humps to slow them down.

Meanwhile Swindon, where all the speed cameras were switched off, reported a drop in the number of road accidents.

During the last year, 14 minor and two serious accidents were monitored by cameras compared to 15 minor, five serious and one fatal crash in the same streets when the speed cameras were operational.

Norman Baker, Lib Dem transport minister, claimed earlier this year that not only does a reduction to 20mph mean "the difference between life and death" for a child hit by a car, but added that the move would make town centres "more attractive places to live and work, and reducing carbon emissions by encouraging people to cycle or walk".

But by the sound of it, our towns and cities will need to invest in speed humps as well if they are to really make a difference on the roads.

What do you think? Should the speed limits be lowered to 20mph? Leave your comments below.