Consultation starts – serious injuries in Birmingham to be reduced?
Birmingham City Council is starting a unique public consultation on its “20 is plenty” policy which intends to implement a 20mph speed limit within Birmingham’s middle ring road. Whilst main arterial routes will retain higher speed limits, under the proposal other roads would be reduced to a 20mph limit and also have additional road safety and environmental controls introduced – very much echoing the “GO 20” campaign which has been at the forefront of the issues that “Brake – the road safety charity” have been actively promoting.
Brake has been at the forefront of a campaign which believes that towns, villages and cities should be places where everyone can go out and about and feel safe, and sees a fear of fast traffic as working against that goal. A survey Brake conducted with a national insurance company revealed that 90% of parents believed fast traffic posed a danger to families and children, and 3 in 4 said they would walk more if roads were made safer. This appears to be backed up by other statistics. A trial of a similar scheme of reduced speed limits and road safety measures in Warrington reduced casualties by 36%. Between 1986 and 2006 a London study demonstrated that 20mph zones with traffic calming measures reduced deaths and serious injuries by 42%. Regular Government awareness campaigns now mean that most people know that a pedestrian, if struck by a vehicle driving at 20mph, is likely to suffer slight injuries, at 30mph they are likely to be severely hurt and at 40mph or above are likely to be killed.
Birmingham City Council’s “20 is plenty” is an important initiative which clearly will bring about a reduction in deaths and serious injuries in Birmingham if implemented. The Local Authority are seeking to provide information and consult with the public in the areas where the new speed limit might come into effect, and are doing so in a highly accessible way. There will be five exhibitions across Birmingham in September and October. Postcards are due to be delivered to households and businesses explaining the proposed change to 20mph limits, and to confirm how people can be involved in the consultation. The consultation will end on 17 October 2014. If implemented the new speed limit, alongside other initiatives to improve road safety, will be in place during 2016.
Philip Edwards, a Partner in the Birmingham Office of Clarke Willmott, who specialises in road traffic claims said:-
“In large conurbations like Birmingham, and indeed across the country, the incidence of fatalities, head and brain, spinal cord and other serious injuries remains too high. Each is a personal tragedy and in almost every case is an avoidable incident. Road safety policies like “20 is plenty” can and will make a positive difference, and I am confident the people of Birmingham will support this initiative and help make roads safer places – and if they do it may well become a blueprint for the whole country to follow. Even before the policy is implemented it is worth all of us who drive remembering that speed limits are only ever a maximum, and it is incumbent upon us to drive at a safe speed for the circumstances, and simply doing that can prevent future tragedies occurring”
If you would like further details of the consultation, they are available at http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/20mph