'Slow zones are a bigger risk' fears are rubbished

Reporter:

Owen Evans

CONCERNS raised about the frequency of accidents on 20mph roads have been rebuffed.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has spoken out about speed limits being changed to 20mph on roads throughout the country.

The road safety organisation said serious accidents on 20mph roads had increased by more than a quarter in the last year.

The statement came after Flintshire Council announced plans to create 20mph zones outside every school in the county and council bosses said the national figures do represent the situation in current 20mph zones around schools here.

IAM said Government figures showed in 2013 serious accidents had increased by 26 per cent on 20mph roads compared with 2012 – from 333 to 420.

The data showed slight accidents on 20mph roads in Great Britain increased by 16 per cent in 2013.

There was, however, a 33 per cent reduction in the number of people killed on 20mph roads – from nine to six.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Recent advice, guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place. More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they don’t seem to deliver fewer casualties.”

However the claims were rebuffed by Neal Cockerton, chief officer of organisational change at Flintshire Council.

He said: “The data referred to by the IAM offers a general UK-wide perspective.

“Locally in Flintshire, there have been no recorded child pedestrian injuries around the 19 schools currently provided with advisory 20 mph signs, for the three-year period between December 2010 and December 2013.

“A Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) study in 2012 advised that speed significantly increases the chance of being injured in a collision.

“The installation of 20mph signs around all our schools will increase road safety and awareness and improve road conditions around our schools.”

Deputy leader of the local authority and cabinet member for environment, Cllr Bernie Attridge, has spearheaded the move to bring in 20mph zones.

When making the announcement last week, he said: “Delivering 20mph zones outside the county’s schools has been a priority for this administration.

“The new arrangements will improve road safety by making drivers aware of the school location which will help ensure they reduce their speed accordingly.

“Clearly speed is a key factor in road safety and this is a major step forward in protecting the safety of our children.”

According to the figures cited by AIG, casualties in 20mph zones in the UK as a whole also rose with “serious casualties” increasing by 29 per cent and “slight casualties” going up by 19 per cent.

The number of serious casualties increased from 339 in 2012 to 437 in 2013 while the number of slight casualties increasing from 2,286 to 2,721, the charity said.

In the same year there was a decrease in the number of serious and slight accidents on 30mph roads and 40 mph roads, according to the charity.

Serious accidents went down nine per cent on 30mph roads and seven per cent on 40 mph roads.

There was a five per cent reduction in slight accidents on 30 mph roads and a three per cent decrease on 40 mph roads.

Work to install advisory speed limits outside all Flintshire’s 84 primary and secondary schools will start in the next few days and should be completed before the end of the summer holidays.

The plan was announced by Flintshire Council last autumn, and was implemented at 19 schools before it was hit with delays while Welsh Government officials ensured proposed signs were fit for use.

Providing the signs is expected to cost about £50,000.

Road safety charity Brake also disputed the claims by the IAM.

In a statement, a Brake spokesman said: “We don’t accept the IAM’s interpretation of these figures. It’s our experience – and the evidence shows – that 20mph make our roads safer, reducing the number of crashes.

“The fact is, speed kills. We will continue to campaign for a change of the national, urban default speed limit, from 30 to 20mph.”

See full story in the Leader

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