South Essex road traffic solicitor says that councils should carefully target 20mph speed limits to improve their effectiveness

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Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner at Palmers Solicitors, who specialises in road traffic offences, has said that councils could improve the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits by being more selective about where and when they are used.

He commented after a study commissioned by the Government found that 20mph speed limits have not significantly reduced collisions and casualties in residential areas.

The Department for Transport has encouraged local authorities since 2013 to impose 20mph speed limits where they appear appropriate and have the potential to reduce collisions and casualties.

Since then, some local authorities, including in London and in Bristol, have imposed blanket 20mph limits across wide areas of the road network.

Jeremy Sirrell said: “A 20mph speed limit can be an effective way to alert drivers to a particular hazard, such as a school, and to encourage them to slow down and take extra care.”

“Imposing 20mph speed limits on a blanket basis dilutes this power and means that particular hazards or places where drivers need to slow down no longer stand out. The police cannot feasibly enforce 20mph speed limits over such a wide area and they can seem unnecessary to drivers, so I am not surprised that the policy has had little effect on casualties and collisions.”

“I would urge local authorities to take a nuanced and intelligent approach to their use of 20mph speed limits, which hopefully might lead to a real reduction in collisions and casualties.”