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Speed compliance lowers but public support for slower speeds increases

17 July 2021

In UK during 2020, under free-flowing traffic conditions, 56% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads compared to 53% on motorways and 12% on national speed limit single carriageway roads.

The report published by the Department for Transport shows that in 2020, under free-flowing traffic conditions, 56% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads compared to 53% on motorways and 12% on national speed limit single carriageway roads.

Alongside this announcement new research by IAM RoadSmart,  reveals that support for reducing the speed limit on all urban roads from 30mph to 20mph has increased in recent years with almost half of drivers now in favour.  

Overall, 44% of drivers surveyed agree all current 30mph limits should be replaced with a 20mph limit, a 13% increase from the same representative sample surveyed in 2014. Crucially, areas outside schools were seen as the highest priority for reducing speed limits to 20mph, receiving support from an overwhelming 89% of respondents.

The main reasons put forward by supporters of a blanket reduction in the speed limit are to ‘make the roads safer’ (49%) and ‘reduce accidents / saving lives’ (24%).

Meanwhile, those against argue that 20mph is too slow and that individual roads or areas should be considered rather than a blanket ban.

Significantly, just over half of drivers, 54%, would like the road outside their home to have a 20mph limit, much higher than 44% when the survey was last conducted seven years ago, possibly indicating that lockdown may have made people more aware of their immediate environment.

Further findings from the study found strong support for a ‘soft touch’ for drivers caught speeding up to 30mph in a 20mph zone, with 64% of respondents favouring a tailored driver education course rather than a fine for offenders.

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