Portsmouth becomes first 20 mph city in Britain

Portsmouth becomes first 20 mph city in Britain  
Filed under:
on 06/01/2007

Brake has today welcomed news that Portsmouth has become the first city in Britain to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit across the south-east of the city. The national road safety charity is calling for compulsory 20mph zones in residential areas and around schools for the whole country and is delighted that Portsmouth is leading the way towards protecting its children from traffic.

A child is hurt on UK roads every 18 minutes [1] and a shocking 61% of children killed or seriously injured in road crashes are on foot [2].

In February, the Government published its Child Road Safety Strategy 2007 which suggested that Local Authorities and the Highways Agency should ‘consider’ wider use of 20mph zones and traffic calming measures in areas where children use roads. Brake welcomed the move but urged the Government to take more decisive action and lift the restrictions that councils still face if they want to introduce this life-saving limit.

The Strategy also states that the Department for Transport will continue to ‘monitor’ local authorities’ performance of child road safety audits. Brake is urging the Government to ensure all Local Authorities carry out child road safety audits in all communities and act upon their audits’ findings to introduce appropriate engineering measures.

Cathy Keeler, head of campaigns at Brake, says : “We are delighted that Portsmouth has ignored the usual knee-jerk reaction of the small minority of speed freaks who oppose 20mph zones. This positive step will help protect the Portsmouth’s communities, particularly children, who deserve to be able to walk about their neighbourhoods free from fear of speeding traffic. We hope the rest of the country will follow suit and adopt these level-headed measures to save lives. If the Government is serious about reducing the number of child deaths on the road 20mph zones in residential areas are the way forward.”

Many deaths and serious injuries of children on foot and bicycles could be prevented by introducing a lower speed limit outside schools and in residential areas. If a driver hits a child at 20mph they have a 90% survival chance. At 30mph a child has a 50% survival rate and at 40mph they have an 85% chance of being killed [3].

In May, the Department for Transport released provisional 2006 estimates for Road Casualties in Great Britain, showing that deaths and serious injuries among pedestrians remained at similar levels to 2005 (2% decrease). Click here to see the full Transport Statistics Bulletin. Of 7,000 pedestrians killed or seriously injured on roads around Britain, 2,000 (29%) were children aged 0 – 15 (figures are rounded to the nearest 10).

Click here for more information on Brake’s flagship ‘Watch out, there’s a kid about!’ campaign which is the focus of Brake’s annual Road Safety Week (5-11 November 2007). Local communities around the country will be taking part in initiatives to urge drivers to slow down around schools and homes and Brake will be hosting national and regional media launches to call for measures to protect children on foot and bikes. Click here for more information about Road Safety Week 2007 (

Click here for today’s Daily Express front page article about 20mph speed limits being introduced in Portsmouth.


[1] Department for Transport, Road Casualties in Great Britain 2005 and Police Service of Northern Ireland, Injury Road Traffic Collision Statistics Annual Report 2005 .
[2] Department for Transport provisional estimates for Road Casualties in Great Britain 2006.
[3] Department for Transport

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