Recently, The City of Edinburgh Council has introduced new 20 mph limits across a large proportion of roads in the city. Personally, I understand their reasoning – in city centre zones, it should be made easier for pedestrians (of which quite a few are children) to cross the road safely. However, some of the roads these new limits have been enforced on are ridiculous – ones that are long and straight, and also quite wide. But is this in fact still a bad thing, or is it going to improve road safety?

According to the UK’s Department of Transport, statistics show that 143 accidents a year are ‘caused directly by’ slow drivers. Moreover, according to other traffic-related reports (Confused.com for one), almost a third of all motorists have been involved in a near miss due to another driver driving too slowly. The result of this is that, apparently, six in 10 drivers feel stress due to this and are more likely to ‘undertake’, a dangerous manoeuvre which is fiercely advised against by road safety specialists.

The thing is, the speed somebody can actually drive at depends on a number of factors, such as parked cars, visibility and congestion. Therefore, on some occasions, driving at an ‘inappropriate speed’ is actually physically not possible. Even if it was, if attempted by motorists, it would, realistically, warrant a lower speed limit being enforced. However, I’d like to think that most drivers are not like that and so, for the majority of the year, all a lower speed limit is doing is frustrating drivers, causing stress, and resulting in abuse being directed at those who adhere to some of the ridiculously low limits in the city.

Low speed limits can be good to protect the pedestrians and younger members of our population, but is it well justified on all the roads the council thinks qualify for them? I’m not so sure…

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