Bogus analysis of DfT casualty figures by Institute of Advanced Motorists

IAM analysis of DfT casualty figures for 2013 show that as the total number of 20mph roads increases, so do the total number of casualties, but their conclusion that this is evidence of increased danger shows a woeful lack of understanding of

If you measured the number of casualties in two adjacent town (say A and B) in 2012 and 2013 then you can compare how their roads are getting safer over that time. However if 2012-13 you changed the boundary between A and B so that now many of the roads were in A rather than B you would expect the casualties in town A to have increased. But if you kept no records of how many roads were in A or B or when they were transferred then it would be difficult to conclude anything from the figures.

Around the country most of our iconic towns and cities are changing the limit on roads from 30mph to 20mph. Hence the total length of 20mph roads is increasing and 30mph decreasing.

It therefore comes as no surprise to find that the total casualties on 20mph roads has increased (by 20%) in 2013 and decreased on 30mph roads (by 7%). In
fact with 20% of the UK now in local authorities currently making most roads 20mph this is entirely expected. DfT record no statistics on the total length of 20mph or 30mph roads and hence any conclusion that this increase reflects any increased danger would not have any foundation.

The IAM have just issued a press release that concludes from these statistics that “20mph roads are not delivering fewer casualties”. A similar conclusion was made by the Sun in August 2012 from the 2011 DfT casualty report.

The BBC “More or Less” program then felt that this was such a blatant misrepresentation that they featured the story in a programme. Their conclusion was that the claims were “phonus ballonus” and without a consideration of how the number and length of 20/30mph roads had changed then no conclusions could be made as to whether setting a
20mph limit made the roads more dangerous. (1)

One valid statistic that can be gleaned from the 2013 casualty figures is the risk of death for casualties in 20mph and 30mph roads. On 20mph roads in 2013 there were 6 deaths out of 3,164 casualties (0.2%) whilst on 30mph roads there were 538 deaths out of 111,186 casualties (0.5%). Hence on a 30mph road any casualty is 2.5 times more likely
to result in a fatality than on a 20mph road.

Rod King MBE, Founder and Campaign Director of 20’s Plenty for Us commented:-

“We are amazed and disappointed that the Institute of Advanced Motorists should make such a woeful mistake in their conclusions from the DfT statistics. In fact, wherever 20mph limits have been piloted, on looking at the casualties in detail, councils have concluded that there was a positive effect on road safety and subsequently widened
the implementation across most areas. Now 20% of the UK population live in towns, cities or villages where the Traffic Authority is convinced that 20 is plenty for most streets. The IAM conclusion is bogus and reflects a poor understanding of either the changing numbers and success of 20mph limits or basic statistics”


12:20min i

20splentyforsheffield – letter to Sheffield Councilors

20splentyforsheffield – letter to Sheffield Councilors –  May 2014

Twenty’s Plenty For Sheffield is calling for funding for Total 20 – a default 20mph limit in residential areas to be prioritised and creatively explored, and for the council to publish a timetable for Total 20 in appropriate areas and streets by 2017.


Sheffield is at a crossroads. Our city is congested, our air seriously polluted. We need to make profound changes to the way we live, work and travel if we are to have a healthy city for our own and our children’s lifetime, and ensure we have a competitive economic advantage by reducing our reliance on fossil fueled transport.

Fear of traffic compromises our children’s educational and social attainment due to reduced independent mobility, and the costs of overcoming childhood obesity and premature elder care due to inactivity are having to be funded by taxpayers. Those who would like to get out and lead a healthier life find their anxieties in our street environment compromising their intentions and efforts.

Tragically, our road safety record is worsening, and more than half of road deaths and serious injuries occur on roads with 30 mph limits.

Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe (22.5%) yet one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school in Europe. Sheffield parents consistently cite traffic speeds and danger as the main reason why their children are not allowed to cycle or walk to school.

20’s Plenty for Sheffield believes there is a solution. Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease collisions with children and pedestrians by up to 70%, whilst increasing urban journey times by just 40 seconds maximum.

That’s why so much of the UK is adopting 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas, and in places where the main business of the road – shopping, schools, leisure and work is around people.

In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%.

In Bristol walking and cycling increased significantly after wide 20 limits were implemented.

In London, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Leicester, Oxford, Hull, Bristol, Warrington, Liverpool, Manchester and many more towns, council officials are using the recent DfT Guidelines, and increasingly using monies from the public health budget, to introduce default 20 mph limits on appropriate streets. In National surveys 80% of the public and 75% of drivers support 20 mph as a speed limit on residential streets, and in places like Coventry wide 20mph areas have dramatically improved the experience for all road users.

Sheffield City Council adopted the principle of City wide 20mph in 2011.Cllrs need to provide vision and objectives and then look at how to fund. 20mph limits need to be seen as part of a phased and holistic plan that resets the social norm rather than prioritising on injury statistics or funding available. By taking the current area by area approach, the Council is going down a path that means it will take many years to cover the whole city and increase the costs of implementation by millions of pounds.
We would like to see the Council publish a timetable for a completed default 20 limit by 2017.

This doesn’t mean that all roads should be 20mph – on some of our urban streets a higher limit may be appropriate, but let’s do it on the basis of who is using the road, not whether it’s an ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or “Distributor” road. Some of these roads are the very roads that children could walk or cycle to school on, or older people walk to the local shops.
It is time for our roads to be equitably shared with all users, implementing an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable, and makes our lovely city an even more attractive ‘Place’ to live and grow up in.

Streets where people live, work, shop and play should be 20mph. We call on Sheffield City Council to actively seek ways to speed up the 20mph program and publish a timetable to make all those streets safer for us by 2017.


Public Health Professionals Call for 20mph limits

Public Health leaders are increasingly identifying wide-area 20mph limits as key for liveability & health equality. Speed reduction tackles risk, inactivity, obesity, isolation & is child, disability, elderly & dementia friendly.

The Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health & National Children’s Bureau advocate Total 20 in built up areas[1].  Their Why Children Dieresearch, led by Dr Ingrid Wolfe found around 2,000 additional children per year– 5 a day – die in the UK compared to Sweden.Over three quarters of injury deaths in 10-18 year olds are due to traffic incidents.  Reducing the national speed limit in built up areas to 20mph is a key recommendation for child protection to cut the source of daily road risk.  More than 80% of child road casualties occur on 30mph limited streets.

As well as these direct safety gains, 20 mph limits promote health & wellbeing in many other ways:

  • By encouraging a shift to walking & which reduces obesity & heart disease
  • Lower emissions promote healthier lungs
  • Increased mobility for children & the disabled, elderly or dementia sufferers delivers gains in health & self esteem
  • Better inclusion & access to society for non-car owners & greater equality for the poor
  • Up to 50% reduction in noise from road traffic
  • Less congestion from ‘school run’ & other trips as people choose to move from car-based journey to more active ones by walking & cycling.
  • Increased social cohesion & less loneliness as people talk to each other far more on less traffic dominated streets.

Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Adrian Phillips said “We talk a lot about obesity & the need for people to be more physically active but we have to take action to make that easier. It’s vital that people feel safe on the roads.  Creating safer, more attractive walking & cycling routes through reducing the speed limit to 20 mph will significantly increase numbers of walkers & cyclists & contribute towards a mode shift away from cars to active travel.  Removing barriers to walking & cycling will reduce health inequalities & provide a foundation for the citywide promotion of active travel through smarter choices initiatives.[2]

20mph limits is the top evidenced based policy to raise regular exercise levels according to a Public Health England & LGA report. In “Obesity & the environment: increasing physical activity & active travel[3]” Dr Nick Cavill & Professor Harry Rutter recommend 20mph as the best way to improve exercise by raising walking & cycling levels.

Prof Danny Dorling, from Oxford University is author of a 20mph chapter in the British Academy’s health inequality collection[4] He said  “I was asked to provide the evidence base for a single workable policy to reduce inequalities in public health. Reducing car speeds does this in a way that is far more directly obvious than any other single health policy. The effects range from reduction in casualties, right through to the encouragement of more healthy walking & cycling when people are less afraid of fast cars in their neighbourhoods. The cost is minimal & the benefits are enormous.”

All Take Action on Active Travel[5] report partners including the Association of Directors of Public Health, Faculty of Public Health & UK Public Health Association want 10% of transport budgets allocated to active travel & 20mph speed limits in towns & villages.  “Make 20mph or lower speed limits the norm for residential streets & those used by shoppers, tourists & others, close to schools or public buildings, or important for walking & cycling or children’s play. In urban areas only the busiest strategic traffic routes should now qualify for higher speed limits.”

And in Liverpool City Council, Manchester City Council, Calderdale Council & Lancashire Council the community benefits are seen as so important that Public Health teams have supported implementations of wide-area 20mph limits with direct funding. Healthy roads have slower speeds. Write to your Local Health Cabinet Councillor & Public Health lead today to work towards 20mph with transport colleagues.

[1] 1 May 2014

[2] 30 April 2014

[3] PHE 2013

[4] “If you could do one thing..”guide for Local Authorities 16 Jan 2014

[5] Sustrans 2008

Why Children Die – report lists 20mph urban speed limit as a key recommendation

The National Children’s Bureau and the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health have released a new report into the UK’s “tragic” child mortality rates,  “Why Children Die”

One of its key recommendations is to reduce the national speed limit to 20mph in built up areas.





20mph Myth Buster

20mph Myth Buster

Wide area 20mph limit critics cling to various myths. Learn to bust them!

20mph vs 30mph journey time

20mph (esp side roads) doesn’t significantly alter trip times or inconvenience drivers.
Jams & stops do. Constant 30mph is rare due to bends, junctions etc. Going fast between
obstructions = extra wait at next stop.

20mph is OK near schools in term time at drop off & pick up times only

80% of child casualties happen on non-school trips. Families need wide area limits for child protection from road injury – their top risk. Older people are even more likely to die or be seriously injured – 20mph is 10 times safer (than 30mph) for 60+yr olds compared to 7x for others

Variable limits only eg school times or not 20mph at night

Variable limit digital signs are expensive so & can’t go on a wide network – therefore limits end up inconsistent, confusing & don’t reduce fear of speed or increase active travel significantly.

Casualties fall, but what about Killed & Serious Injuries (KSI)?

Detractors cherry pick data, pointing to raised KSIs in some places – by tiny, insignificant amounts. KSIs are rare events. Small datasets are unreliable. In most 20mph places KSI fall along with total casualties.

Numbers of injuries on 20mph roads

The number & length of 20mph roads is rising (& 30mph roads falling). Absolute numbers  f injuries on 20mph roads could rise, whilst casualties per km fall. Denominator matters!

Income generation from fines

Fines are rare. Compliance is by engagement, pacer vehicles, speed watch volunteers, warning letters, speed awareness courses, occasional enforcement days with a few Fixed Penalty Notices and very rare points or prosecutions

Drivers could lose their licences

Police are not using 20mph limits to add points to licences or remove driving rights

Speedometer watching could be distracting

Drivers must check their speed whatever the limit. Speedometer checking should happen at 20 & 30 & 40mph, especially in urban areas. Highway Code

On 20mph roads people might take more risks

20mph is 7-10 times safer than 30mph. It is unlikely that people become 7-10 times more careless where 20mph limits are signed. Massive risk compensation is an unproven fallacy

Drivers don’t obey 30mph and won’t obey 20mph

Average & faster road speeds decrease eg in Portsmouth by 6-7 mph slower on previously 25mph+ roads. Even 1mph matters. Every 1mph less reduces casualties & severities by 6%

Educate pedestrians

Yes educate. Yet studies show road safety education alone hasn’t reduced casualties.

Slower speeds works & is recommended by WHO. Don’t blame the victims!

20mph & efficiency

Modern vehicles are efficient at 20mph. A lower gear isn’t always needed. Fuel use and pollution fall due to smoother driving.

Popularity effects

Drivers want 20mph & support rises post implementation. It’s a vote winner!

Nanny state

Drivers cannot self select the limit. All UK roads have a limit (Highway Code)

UK has safe roads

Not if you are a pedestrian or cyclist, where the UK is very high risk on international comparisons. Pedestrians are 24% of fatalities

Business effects

Businesses currently pick up the bill for casualties & danger on our streets. Profits &
tourism rise with slower speeds as footfall rise

Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk

Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk 03/10.04.2014.

Hello, my name is Richard Attwood, I’m a member of the ‘20splentyforsheffield’ campaign group, which is affiliated to the ‘20’splentyforus’ organization, the National campaign group promoting the value of lower speeds where people Live, Work, Shop and Play.

 So what’s it all about? In some ways Sheffield is at a crossroads.

In my experience driving in Sheffield has become increasingly stressful, competing for space on congested roads, umpteen signs saying do this/don’t do that, cyclists and pedestrians all over the place, cameras, humps and chicanes to negotiate, trying to get a parking space and so on.

Sheffield council (SCC) wants to improve this and has a “Vision is for excellent transport in Sheffield” – the stated aim is to empower people to make informed choices about the way they travel, with a Transport policy that contributes to the social, economic and environmental improvements we want for this city, thus creating:

•       Increased opportunities for everybody

•       A competitive low-carbon economy

•       A better environment

•       A healthier population

•       A culture where the car is not always the first choice

Laudable aims, however right now our city is congested and air pollution is worsening. Public health is worsening, public health budgets are being cut whilst levels of obesity and heart disease are rising. Climate change is here, and we must make profound changes to the way we live, work and travel if we are to pass healthy cities to our own children.

 It’s about a Modal shift for personal and societal health:

The Government’s chief medical adviser, Councils (eg SCC’s  ‘Fairness Commission’ report) and umpteen various bodies have produced evidence papers and guidelines saying we need a Modal Shift in our Travel Choices.

Around two thirds of UK journeys under five miles are made by car, compromising our health, our environment and our communities.

 ‘Active Travel’ on the other hand, be it using our feet or our cycles and/or public transport, means we build health giving and social exercise into our everyday lives, rather than maybe driving to an expensive Gym.

People who are active have significantly lower risk of physical problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes and also mental illnesses such as Anxiety and Depression are reduced. (This author’s own high Blood Pressure/Cholesterol levels were reduced by adopting cycle commuting, avoiding the need for medication.)

So why don’t more of us do this, and encourage our children too?

 It’s about Choice: People tell you the reason they don’t choose healthier travel modes is Fear, people get anxious for themselves and for their children around speeding vehicles.

Fear of traffic keeps children and old people shut up at home while those who would like to get out and lead a healthier life find that their anxieties in our street environment stop them from doing so. Tragically, our road safety record is now worsening, and more than half of road deaths and serious injuries, mainly children, occur on roads with 30 mph limits.

Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe (22.5%) and one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school. Sheffield parents consistently cite traffic speed as the main reason why they drive children to school, rather than letting them walk or cycle.

 20’s Plenty for Sheffield believes there is a solution: Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by up to 70%, whilst increasing urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum. In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%. In Bristol walking and cycling increased significantly. That’s why so much of the UK is adopting 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas, and places where the main business of the road; shopping, schools, leisure and work, is around people and their movements, rather than vehicles.

It’s about ‘Place’: In cities like London, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Hull, Leicester, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester and Warrington, council officials are using the recent DfT Guidelines, and now monies from the public health budget, to introduce blanket 20 mph limits on appropriate streets.

In National surveys 80% of the public and 75% of drivers support 20 mph as a speed limit on residential streets, and in places like Coventry wide 20mph areas have dramatically improved the experience for all road users. In Friday rush hour traffic in Coventry this author witnessed:

  • More and safer people using a more inviting/relaxed city centre.
  • Vehicles queues reduced or eliminated as flow improves.
  • Improved parking provision for motorists.
  • Taxis and buses moving easily (contrary to their initial fears)
  • People in vehicles/on foot/cycles interacting calmly for shared space.
  • Not one angry car horn blast!!

As a result Coventry is finding satisfaction and retail confidence is up.

Better public realm and streets where traffic is perceived as less threatening are seen as more attractive to investors, having greater ‘footfall’ as people get out and about, spending their money locally, facilitating a more resilient local economy.

 It’s about road use: It doesn’t mean that all roads should be 20mph.

We need to decide speeds on the basis of how the road is used, not whether it’s a ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or a “distributor” road. Some of these roads are the very roads that children could walk or cycle to school on, or older people use to walk to the local shops in comfort and safety.

It is time for appropriate roads to be equitably shared with all users, setting an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable. Streets where people concentrate to Live, Work, Shop and Play should be 20mph – it’s as simple as that.

It’s about Culture shift: implementing a 20 mph limit requires an active public education campaign, consultation, signage, and/or road markings, changing traffic regulation orders through advertising in local media plus local authority officer time, and the move to considerate and calm driving will take time to become established as a social norm, just as initiatives such as seat belts and the indoor smoking ban took years of education and culture shift before they became custom and practice. But like lower speeds the benefits are clear.

‘Light touch’ (ie normal) policing can enforce 20 limits in the usual manner. ACPO now says that where drivers are regularly and wilfully breaking the law ‘we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders speeding over 24mph.’

It’s about Taking the 20 Challenge! Try sticking to 20mph as you drive the new 20mph roads, and in doing so you may notice two things:

Personally I became aware that I really could stop quickly if I needed to, avoiding the stress and potential tragedy of a collision, rather than my usual ‘hoping I don’t have to try’ approach when I travel at 30mph.

I also noticed that I invariably end up at the next junction or queue in pretty much the same manner as before, with the same vehicle in front of me, regardless of its speed down the same stretch of road in the interim.

As a 20 driver I am less stressed, use less fuel, feel safer, and I know that I am having much less impact on my neighbourhood, increasing the chances that others will feel safe enough to begin making healthier travel choices for themselves and their children. I’ve noticed too that all these benefits come at little or no cost to my journey time.

It’s about talking to your Councillors:

Councillors set speeds and are required to do what’s best for us.

Ask your councillors to push for lower speeds and safer, more people friendly streets where you and your family live, work, shop and play, aand do so sooner rather than later. Sheffield City Council has had 20mph ‘zones’ for years, and adopted the principle of city wide 20mph in 2011, but progress implementing it is too slow. By taking an area by area approach over 10+ years, our Council is going down a path that denies the many benefits of lower speeds to many Sheffielders, confuses drivers, and increases the costs of implementation by at least double SCC’s 2012 cost estimate of £3m for whole city implementation.

It’s about us all pushing for 20mph across Sheffield by 2020! 

Team Hillsborough Letter to Clr Leigh Bramhall – March 2014

Letter from Team Hillsborough to Leigh Bramhall & Jack Scott received by 20s plenty for Sheffield.

Consideration of wider 20 mph zones to cover the Hillsborough area

I write following a meeting of Team Hillsborough to ask you to consider the potential positive impact wider a 20 mph scheme across the whole of Hillsborough could have on the safety, usability of local facilities, health, transport use and other improvements in the area.

We were advised of the wider “20 is plenty” campaign, and we recognise that at the present time it is very difficult to even consider asking the Council to put more onto its agenda.

However, we think there could be positive benefits in a medium-term consideration of the potential impact and benefits, and would like to make the following points:

1. The planned road-works renewals in a couple of years time in the Hillsborough area, by Amey, would provide a good opportunity for a general improvement of the current confused and multiple speed limits across the area;

2. The costs of a single broader scheme would appear to be less that the cost of the considerable number of micro-schemes, on the evidence of some other cities, hopefully resulting in a reduction in cost to the Council;

3. We believe that the impact of such a scheme on the usability of the Hillsborough shopping area, its affect on the residential areas, and other benefits would assist a positive improvement in the regeneration of Hillsborough, and could be part of any Business Improvement District proposal that emerges in the coming months;

4. We recognise there might be a concern that it might be felt to need more police enforcement, but it is suggested in the group also that most people take account of the limits, and that community consent would be a positive step in the right direction, even without increased policing.

We would like to assure you that we understand that Team Hillsborough has no formal representative role, and we recognise that there are many interests involved in such a move. We understand that such a proposal would need consultation, a policy change on the part of the Council, and the integration of such a plan across other local initiatives.

But we would like to ask you to consider how the proposal might assist the overall improvement of an area that feels a bit “left out” in the regeneration stakes.

Thank you

Team Hillsborough