Hot Topic: Can 20mph limits/zones help reduce collisions and casualties, and improve road safety?

Successfully piloted in 2017 and repeated in 2018, the focus for the Hot Topic at the 2019 conference will be 20mph limits/zones.

Three speakers will debate whether 20mph limits/zones can help reduce collisions and casualties, and improve road safety.


Pat Bates

Road Safety Strategy Officer, Torfaen Council

Pat works as part of Torfaen Council’s highways team and is responsible for ‘front line’ work and projects as well as having a role in a strategic overview on road safety matters. His responsibilities include road safety ETP and some road casualty reduction engineering schemes including Safe Routes to School, traffic calming, new specific 20mph speed limits and new active travel (cycling) routes.

He is an active member of Road Safety Wales and active travel groups, some of which include members from the public health sector where the different views on 20mph speed limits generate much discussion.

He is a staunch supporter and advocate of the policy status quo on speed limits – i.e. that the DfT policies continue to be centred around evidence based decision making. He is in favour of lower speed limits where there is evidence that they would be of casualty reduction benefit and where the lower vehicle speeds can realistically be achieved.

He is totally unconvinced that wide area, default, signed only 20s are effective due to widespread non-compliance and little if any enforcement – the elephant in the room.

He has also foreseen for some time the situation which is now happening, where lobbying from ‘elsewhere’ e.g. pollution issues, the de-carbonising agenda, the public health practitioners’ increasing influence etc – are bringing great pressure to change the underlying principles on road casualty reduction that currently determine most speed limits.

He believes this is a debate that needs to move to the centre ground sooner rather than later.

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Rod King MBE

Founder, 20’s Plenty for Us

Rod King started to campaign for lower speed limits in Warrington, UK in 2004. He went on to set up 20’s Plenty for Us in 2007 in order to assist others in communities which wanted lower speeds and speed limits.

With a focus on the single issue of campaigning for 20mph limits for most roads across a complete local authority, 20’s Plenty for Us now has 420 local campaigns in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Australia.

The campaign works by empowering local campaigns and acting as a catalyst for communities to change their speed limits. It has been influential in government and transport thinking and guidance on the use and benefits of 20mph limits.

Rod has also engaged with many of the places implementing wide-area 20mph limits which now include the majority of the UK’s largest 40 urban authorities and 80% of Inner London Boroughs.

In June 2013, Rod was awarded an MBE for Services to Road Safety. Rod has an honours degree in Automobile Engineering and provides his time on a voluntary basis. He has spoken at transport, active travel, road safety and public health conferences around the world.

In 2017 he worked with the World Health Organisation on developing a Slow Down Day Toolkit for UN Global Road Safety Week which was used in over 1,000 campaigning events around the world.

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Richard Fernandes MSc CMILT

Senior Consultant, Atkins

Richard Fernandes is a transport planner with the consultancy Atkins, who has 12 years’ experience working on evaluation projects. From a maths and operational research background, Richard has a passion for exploring new data sources and looking at how to use these to disrupt and improve analyses in the transport industry.

Richard led the analytics on the DfT’s 20mph Speed Limit Evaluation report, published in November 2018; he was responsible for both the safety and speed analysis. Both methodologies used new sources of data or new approaches to provide insight into the effectiveness of 20mph signed only interventions.

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