Call to speed up roll out of 20mph zones

20th February 2017

Call to speed up roll out of 20mph zones

 

LAST year, thousands of children were killed or seriously injured on the country’s roads.

 
20 mph speed signs in Acomb.
 
20 mph speed signs in Acomb.

According to estimated figures from the Department for Transport, between January and September 2016 there were 2,070 such incidents on roads across the UK.

This shocking number represents an eight per cent rise from 2015 in road casualties involving children aged 15 and under.

And speed has been found to significantly increase the risk of injury in a road collision.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, recent figures suggest that the risk of fatality shoots up with acceleration.

A study of pedestrian injury and car impact speed suggests that at 20mph there would be a 1.5 per cent risk of fatality.

 

However, a car travelling at 30mph would present an eight per cent risk of fatality.

So, in November 2015 Northumberland County Council announced a £1m scheme to slow down drivers in the district.

Limits of 20mph are being rolled out in stages outside all schools in the area.

Speaking at the time, cabinet member for local services Coun. Ian Swithenbank said: “Slower speeds bring obvious benefits to places and people – particularly outside schools.

“They help to reduce the risk and severity of collisions and the reduced speed makes it easier to cross roads.

“The public has told us they want more 20mph limits around schools and we’re investing significant resources at locations where this is appropriate, to make it happen as soon as possible.”

So far in Tynedale, only Acomb First School has been made a 20mph zone.

Northumberland County Council said 20mph schemes are planned outside schools in Allendale, Broomhaugh, Broomley, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Greenhead, Greenhaugh, Henshaw, Whittonstall, Whitley Chapel, Corbridge C of E First School and Prudhoe West First School.

These schemes are said to be in various stages of design or consultation.

The speed limit around the schools will be enforceable during set times, which will differ for each area.

However, a stretch of the A695 road that runs in front of Mickley First School will be subject to a permanent 20mph speed limit.

The decision was made following serious concerns for the safety of children at the school.

Headteacher Andy Hudson and local county councillor Anne Dale renewed their calls to improve road safety after a collision outside the school.

A car narrowly avoided crashing into the wall which overlooks the school playground – the second near miss in recent years.

After the incident, a meeting was held between parents, community members and county council officers.

Coun. Anne Dale said: “We discussed the management of this risk.

“I pushed for the 20mph limit to be permanent because of the risk and the positioning of the school playground.

“It’s an accident blackspot. There are problems with parking, problems with people accessing their driveways and the issue of ensuring we have a safe environment for the children.

“Everyone understood that we need to make the area around the school safer.”

Northumberland County Council has confirmed that it is looking to introduce a permanent 20mph speed limit outside Mickley First School.

The proposal is currently under development by a council design team.

The move has been welcomed by headteacher Andy Hudson.

He said: “Reducing the limit from 30mph to 20mph makes a statement to drivers that they are entering a zone where speed can pose a more significant risk or danger to pedestrians and other road users.

“There will always be people who break the speed limit. But with a 20mph zone we are reducing that risk level.

“Instead of driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone, they might be driving at 25mph in a 20mph zone.

“So there’s more a chance to reduce speeds outside of schools, hopefully keeping pedestrians and schools more safe.

“If there is an accident, a lower speed will hopefully reduce the impact.

“And it’s not just about the school’s safety. The junction in the village can be difficult because of the steep slope coming up from the north side.”

“So we want to slow traffic elsewhere in the village.”