As if we need any more bad news, there’s a suggestion that some residential areas of Nottingham will get new 20mph speed limits. Some of these are likely to come into force before Christmas. It’s a City Council dream-scheme designed to reduce accidents and make the roads safer.
This is not my idea of a good idea. It’s also complete and utter twaddle about speed and accidents being inexorably linked. I know it’s politically incorrect to even suggest these things, but the urban myth about speed kills is simply that – an urban myth.
Back in 1996 there was a joint report prepared by the Transport Research Laboratory and the, then, DETR (Department of Environment, Transport and Regions). It has been pretty much ignored ever since as it doesn’t help the cash machine / speed camera brigade. There is a reason it has been ignored – it doesn’t fit the campaigns!
The top four factors in accidents were listed as:
* Failure to judge other person’s path or speed
* Behaviour – carelessness / thoughtlessness / recklessness
* Looked but did not see
Excessive speed was fifth – and in numerical terms accounted for 6% of definite causal factors. Hardly a compelling reason we should all drive like snails? The top four accounted for around 33%.
In spite of this clear cut work my own view is that accidents are caused by bad driving. If you look at the top four reasons in the list you can pretty much categorise these as just that. People not paying attention. Bad drivers.
There is also a further report done by TRL – which looks at whether reducing speed limits changes the accident rate – the answer is ‘no’.
So, it’s time we stopped pandering to short-term politically attractive ideas and stuck to the facts. And stop interfering in our lives. I think people are generally sensible and wouldn’t speed past a school at bell-time. Give us some credit?