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Your interview: 20’s Plenty for Worthing campaigner Duncan Kay
2:00pm Saturday 14th September 2013 in News
NIGEL SNOW: How do you envisage the 20mph zone working in Worthing? Which roads and area would be affected?
DUNCAN KAY (DK): The 20’s Plenty for Worthing campaign has asked that a scheme should include all residential roads in Worthing Borough, while accepting that major through routes may be excluded.
The decision on exactly which roads would be excluded rests with West Sussex County Council (WSCC). Their most recent plan is available on the campaign website at www.20splentyforworthing.org.uk/ excluded.
It excludes many residential roads on the basis that existing traffic speeds are too high. These include roads with schools on. The campaign believes that WSCC must be able to justify any decision to maintain a 30mph limit, particularly in areas where there are children, pedestrians and cyclists.
MARVIN TAYLOR: If after a year of the scheme being introduced passes, how would you measure the success of the 20mph zone?
DK: The aim of the 20’s Plenty for Worthing campaign has always been to create safer, quieter, more pleasant residential streets for everyone, through getting drivers to slow down.
So achieving that would be our measure of success. However I would caution against drawing any definite conclusions after just one year.
The 30mph limit has been in place since 1935, and changing social norms can take time. The evidence is clear that 20mph is the right limit for residential streets but in the same way as attitudes to drink-driving, it may take time for some drivers to change their behaviour.
STEPHANIE BROWN: Wouldn’t a 20mph zone just stir driver’s anger and lead to more reckless driving?
DK: No, and I would hope that we can all agree there is no excuse for reckless driving, particularly when you look at the pain and grief it causes families who have lost loved ones or seen them suffer life-changing injuries.
The vast majority of the population believe that 20mph is the right limit for residential streets.
Don’t forget that major through routes are likely to be excluded so for most journeys across town, the majority of the journey will be unaffected (see the proposed map on our website).
MAXWELL’S GHOST: Duncan, the Government is trying to understand why there have been more accidents in the UK in 20mph zones. Why don’t you focus on the tried and tested safety message of stop, look and listen which actually led to a drop in accidents?
DK: Where is the evidence to back up the assertion that ‘stop, look and listen’ led to a reduction in casualties?
Being hit by a car is still one of the leading causes of preventable death for our children and recent research shows that children cannot accurately judge vehicle speeds above 20mph.
There is strong evidence that reducing vehicle speeds reduces collisions and if you are hit at 30mph you are seven times more likely to be killed than at 20mph. As a result of this evidence, there are now 12.5 million people living in places where local authorities are implementing 20mph as the default speed limit for residential streets. The most likely reason there has been an increase in the number of collisions recorded on roads with 20mph limits, is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of 20mph roads.
UPSIDEDOWNTUCTUC: Blanket cover leads to real areas (around schools, etc) being ignored – a bit like the ‘boy that cried wolf’. For £450,000, why can’t you make black spots safer and put in proper crossings?
DK: The vast majority of child road deaths and injuries do not happen around schools. In Worthing, the campaign found only 3% of injury collisions involving children were covered by 20mph School Safety Zones.
In general, the journey to and from school accounts for less than 20% of child casualties.
We need to improve safety in the places where our children are being killed and injured – their local streets. However these collisions are not just happening in a few ‘black spots’, they are scattered across the whole town. Implementing the proposed scheme in Worthing will cost £300,000. One pedestrian crossing alone would cost £30,000.
XINOMEAD: Will a 20mph zone make a difference if pedestrians continue to be a problem? Pedestrians need to be educated every bit as much as drivers have been through lessons and tests.
DK: There is strong evidence that reducing vehicle speeds reduces deaths and injuries. By contrast there is little if any evidence that pedestrian education does.
I’m not sure how you would introduce a nationwide system of “pedestrian testing”. From what age? How would it be funded? We need to focus on the most cost-effective ways of improving road safety such as 20mph limits.
BARNEY123: 20mph zones are great but won’t it cause more problems if drivers are concentrating on their speedos instead of keeping their heads up and looking at the road ahead?
DK: Drivers already have to obey speed limits while still looking at the road ahead – it is an essential skill that all drivers must master. Typically they get used to what gear to use and the sound of the engine.
When 20mph limits are introduced drivers have to adjust accordingly.
There may be a short period of getting used to the new lower speed, but after that this should not be a problem.
KIT SYMONDS: Given that the Brighton and Hove 20mph zone is selfpoliced and widely ignored, how will this be any different in Worthing?
DK: Since both these questions refer to enforcement issues, I’ve answered them together.
The Police are the experts in law enforcement and they have a duty to enforce all speed limits. The problem of lack of enforcement of 20mph limits in some areas has been recognised.
The Government has recently asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to revise their guidance to address this. The 20’s Plenty for Worthing campaign is not asking for speed humps – they are expensive and often disliked by drivers and cyclists.
Instead the campaign aims to raise awareness that the vast majority of people would like to see slower speeds in residential streets.
This would make a real difference to the safety of our children, older people, cyclists and indeed drivers. Once drivers understand this, and the fact that slowing down makes almost no difference to overall journey times, I think 20mph will be accepted.
We need to change the social norm so that driving too fast in residential streets is seen as being as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
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