The UK 30mph Speed Limit is 80 Years Old – Will it Reach 90?

The UK introduced the 30 miles per hour speed limit in 1935 but with more and more calls to reduce the limit, what is in store for its future?

At the moment most ‘roads with street lighting’ (indicating a built-up area) have a speed limit of 30mph. Road safety in the UK is relatively good today compared to 1934, just before the 30mph limit was introduced, with one fatal road traffic collision for every 20,000 cars. Although we have ten times the number of cars on the road nowadays compared with 1934, back then there were four times the number of fatal road accidents.

It might therefore seem that, on face value, the 30 miles per hour limit has helped improve road safety, but dig a little deeper and you find that persisting with this speed limit in our busy urban areas is a growing problem.

In the UK we have the highest percentage of fatal pedestrian accidents in the whole of Europe. Also more than half of all UK fatal injuries and serious injuries resulting from road accidents happen on roads with a 30mph speed limit.

However, the numbers of UK schoolchildren walking or cycling to school is extremely low compared to other European countries. Parents say the main reason for this is the speed of cars travelling on urban roads where speed limits are set at 20mph rather than the standard 30mph. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory found that by lowering speed limits to 20 miles per hour on urban and residential roads, the number of child pedestrian accidents fell by 70%.

It is for these reasons – and many more – that groups such as 20’s Plenty for Us are campaigning for the default speed limit on UK residential roads to be reduced from 30mph to 20mph by 2020. Many cities across the UK such as Newcastle, Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol have already introduced 20mph limits on residential streets and a pilot is currently being run in London with eight of its busiest roads, known as ‘red routes’, trialling the lower speed limit. Transport for London say that this pilot aims to “help save lives and improve road safety”.

So, with the likelihood of a blanket 20mph limit on UK roads growing stronger, the current 30mph limit may not live to see its 90th birthday. However, if the speed limit is reduced, more of those who use the roads may live to see theirs.

Until such a time that all our residential roads have a lower speed limit, unfortunately, we still compare unfavourably with our European neighbours in terms of serious road accident injuries. If you have been injured following a road traffic collision on a residential street then seeking expert advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer can help you on your way to getting the compensation you deserve.

Claims Direct offer a free consultation for people injured in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 884 0321 or claim compensation online and we will review your claim at no cost to you.