The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) have recently completed a poll of 4000 people asking them if a 20mph speed limit zone should be adopted outside schools. Not surprisingly, 67% of those asked agree it’s a good idea and are in favour of it.
Taking it a bit further, 38% felt that also thought that a 20mph limit should be the norm on roads with shops, car parks etc although only 25% thought they should be imposed in all built up areas. When asked about the road outside their own house, 43% said they were in favour of a 20mph limit and refreshingly, 39% were not.
The respondents were also asked about how the speed limit should be enforced and 40% said with speed limit signs, leaving the public to comply and the police to enforce when they don’t. Slowing people down use other methods wasn’t popular with only 20% in favour of cameras and 21% in favour of using a combination of measures including cameras and road humps. It was however felt that the enforcement of the 20mph zones should only take a medium priority when compared to other road policing duties.
It’s claimed that with selective use of 20mph zones, accidents can be reduced. The problem is however, once these zones start appearing, they will spread like wildfire and drivers will then begin to disregard them, failing to see the reason they are there. We saw this with speed cameras, where initially, they were in locations that were potentially dangerous and traffic needed slowing down and drivers respected them and the significance of them being there. All so often though, speed cameras are in locations that are not any more dangerous than the 5 miles before them, or the 5 miles after them, they are simply there to catch a driver speeding and because of that, drivers don’t respect the reason they are there and simply slow down for the camera, then speed up again once they’ve passed it, so they achieve very little other than catching the odd person from out of area who wasn’t aware the camera was there.
Maybe the proliferation of cameras and reduced speed zones will begin to reduce their effectiveness and everyone knows the expression “familiarity breeds contempt” and whilst we (like everyone else) are in favour of anything that would genuinely reduce accidents and causalities, if the zones are in the right locations, with the restrictions applying at the right times, motorists will respect them without the need for any enforcement at all. However, if motorists feel they are there for no good reason or not being operated correctly in terms of times they apply, they will get ignored leaving the authorities to say “well at least we tried” or the police to devote man power to enforcing them.
Have you ever heard the expression “more is often less”?