ON the roads in the UK there were fewer deaths (843) in 2012 than there were in 2011.
However, saying that, is the problem really solved?
To combat this staggering amount of deaths, local authorities in England have already started considering the idea of introducing a 20mph speed limit in some town centres and residential areas as this is where people may be most vulnerable. This is not going to solve the problem completely but many feel it could hopefully make people aware how dangerous the roads are and the importance of safety in these areas. Down News took to the streets of Downpatrick to find out what the general public thought.
With quite a few of the people interviewed many thought that it was an extremely good idea on paper as there may be pedestrians walking about who wouldn’t be able to avoid oncoming traffic. The fact that cars would be travelling slower would definitely increase the chances of stopping in time before an accident. However, as this was the case on paper, a lot of people also said they doubt that people would stick to this speed limit as they tend to “put the foot down” when they get a break in traffic.
University of Ulster (Jordanstown) student Michael Murray said: “This could in fact slow down the traffic and even make it more relaxed. At the moment there is a sense of urgency in the town centre but if cars know they can only go up to 20 mph then they may be more inclined to just slow up and calm down.
“I think they would definitely need visible speed cameras all over the street to frighten people into sticking to the speed limit because if they were to just put signs up with no real enforcement many people would just act like the speed limit didn’t exist. Maybe even employing more police with regular watches with radar guns, but the police always have other duties and wouldn’t be able to just focus on one relatively small matter like this.
“People tend to just keep going when they have a clear road and before they even realise it they are still doing 50mph in a 30mph zone. It’s crazy.”
A few people suggested, that a pilot scheme introducing the speed limit in one particular zone to see how it fare, would be a good idea because it allows people to see whether the speed limit will be stuck to or whether it frees anything up.
Desi Denvir and Margaret McClean from Downpatrick and Killough respectively said in certain areas locally this could be a very good idea, as in places like the Strangford Road, the Ballymote area and also the town centre because for the first two roads there are residents living about there with schools as well so younger children would be at risk. In the town centre there could be elderly people and younger children at high risk so the speed limit would be important here as well.”
As well as this Desi added: “Some places in the town there is just no point in introducing a speed limit because first of all people aren’t going to stick to it and secondly the areas don’t pose a significant risk. There haven’t been many accidents that I have heard in town centres but its better to be safe in these areas just in case.
“I can’t really see how the speed limit would be enforced because if we look around today there isn’t one police officer on Market Street, so if the speed limit was to change what would the difference be? They couldn’t physically watch the road all the time so it would be ridiculously difficult to enforce.
“If they were to put this speed limit in then I feel older and more experienced people would tend to respect it more, however, younger people could be the problem. I can say from experience I drive a lot more slowly and carefully now, it just comes with experience”.
Whatever happens in addressing the speed limits, drivers need to be taking care and watching out for the elderly, children and oblivious pedestrians as well as other road users such as cyclists, motor cyclists and vehicle users.
When Driving In A Built Up Area
Do You Know Your Stopping Distances?
20mph…….thinking distance 6 metres – stopping distance 6 metres –
12 metres TOTAL
30mph…….thinking distance 9 metres – stopping distance 14 metres
23 metres TOTAL
40mph…….thinking distance 12 metres – stopping distance 24 metres
36 metres TOTAL
What do you think should be the speed limit?
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You c an even petition the Assembly at: 20mph Is Enough