Failure to look is the largest cause of accidents, not speed

Failure to look is the largest cause of accidents, not speed

Praise the deities, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) in the UK has come out with some common sense regarding the UK’s proposed 20mph (32kph) speed limits in towns. Apparently 68% of all crashes are because at least one of the drivers/pedestrians/cyclists didn’t look. Driver behaviour (which includes speed, but also contains a raft of other actions) is responsible for 26%. So, the RAC argues that driver training is what’s required as much as speed limits.

The RAC goes on to say that 95% of pedestrian casualties and 92% of cyclist casualties are killed or injured on urban roads. Well, excuse me for pointing out the blatantly obvious: that’s because the majority of pedestrians and cyclists use these roads. You don’t see that many people walking out in the middle of nowhere. OK, perhaps the RAC is using statistics without explaining probabilities and ‘stuff’.

Anyway, Elizabeth Dainton, R&D Manager for the RAC Foundation is speaking at a conference today (10th) at Aston University on speed management. She’s going to explain that much more research is needed before 20mph zones are comprehensively rolled out across the country, and that they shouldn’t be implemented at all in areas where the public is opposed, business needs fast transport routes, etc.

Ms Dainton will present the aims, objectives and history behind 20mph zones, whilst drawing on one of the most extensive studies on their effectiveness, which found that average speeds fell by 9mph and annual accidents by 60% in select 20mph zones. Although casualty reductions for current 20mph zones are impressive, Ms Dainton will explain that there are limits to their overall use.

These limits are:
* Enforcement: Traffic calming measures are needed if existing speeds are high. These are unpopular and expensive. Physical enforcement is the only option available due to low levels of traffic police and a lack of camera enforcing technology.

* Public acceptability: Three quarters of the public support 20mph zones in residential areas, but no research is available to assess whether a more comprehensive network of zones would be welcomed. Physical traffic calming measures are disliked by 57% of the public. Camera enforcement is also a bone of contention for many, which is likely to make the eventual introduction of average speed cameras to enforce 20mph zones difficult.

* Roads for movement are needed: 20mph zones may reduce casualties in certain circumstances, but the economic vitality of an area also needs to be considered. It is essential that local areas have ‘roads for movement’. A whole network of 20mph zones is not viable or desirable.

But the main problem I see in 20mph zones are that now people will feel even more safe to just amble into the road without looking. But, at least if they get hit there’s less chance of dying. I’ve said it before: people crave some level of danger in their lives. If you keep removing danger from everyday life more and more people will take up bungy jumping.

Praise the deities, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) in the UK has come out with some common sense regarding the UK’s proposed 20mph (32kph) speed limits in towns. Apparently 68% of all crashes are because at least one of the drivers/pedestrians/cyclists didn’t look. Driver behaviour (which includes speed, but also contains a raft of other actions) is responsible for 26%. So, the RAC argues that driver training is what’s required as much as speed limits.

The RAC goes on to say that 95% of pedestrian casualties and 92% of cyclist casualties are killed or injured on urban roads. Well, excuse me for pointing out the blatantly obvious: that’s because the majority of pedestrians and cyclists use these roads. You don’t see that many people walking out in the middle of nowhere. OK, perhaps the RAC is using statistics without explaining probabilities and ‘stuff’.

Anyway, Elizabeth Dainton, R&D Manager for the RAC Foundation is speaking at a conference today (10th) at Aston University on speed management. She’s going to explain that much more research is needed before 20mph zones are comprehensively rolled out across the country, and that they shouldn’t be implemented at all in areas where the public is opposed, business needs fast transport routes, etc.

Ms Dainton will present the aims, objectives and history behind 20mph zones, whilst drawing on one of the most extensive studies on their effectiveness, which found that average speeds fell by 9mph and annual accidents by 60% in select 20mph zones. Although casualty reductions for current 20mph zones are impressive, Ms Dainton will explain that there are limits to their overall use.

These limits are:
* Enforcement: Traffic calming measures are needed if existing speeds are high. These are unpopular and expensive. Physical enforcement is the only option available due to low levels of traffic police and a lack of camera enforcing technology.

* Public acceptability: Three quarters of the public support 20mph zones in residential areas, but no research is available to assess whether a more comprehensive network of zones would be welcomed. Physical traffic calming measures are disliked by 57% of the public. Camera enforcement is also a bone of contention for many, which is likely to make the eventual introduction of average speed cameras to enforce 20mph zones difficult.

* Roads for movement are needed: 20mph zones may reduce casualties in certain circumstances, but the economic vitality of an area also needs to be considered. It is essential that local areas have ‘roads for movement’. A whole network of 20mph zones is not viable or desirable.

But the main problem I see in 20mph zones are that now people will feel even more safe to just amble into the road without looking. But, at least if they get hit there’s less chance of dying. I’ve said it before: people crave some level of danger in their lives. If you keep removing danger from everyday life more and more people will take up bungy jumping.

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