Our local radio station recently had a call from a listener who had been told by a traffic policeman that the 20mph speed limits appearing in Sheffield are not enforceable. This is incorrect.
Our speed limits are set by our elected representatives, the council, and it is the police‘s job to enforce them in just the same manner as any other legal speed limit.
However, the coming reality of lower speeds in many well-populated areas means that we should not be relying on our stretched police to force us comply, but rather that we drivers need to be given the rationale behind 20mph and its benefits, so that we thenhoose to comply, and slower speeds become normal and self-enforcing.
The council are rolling out 20mph zones over our city because they support our right to feel safe to choose means other than our cars for appropriate journeys, and the physical and social benefits such choices bring.
Drivers need only three car lengths to stop from 20mph, rather than six lengths from 30mph, and injuries sustained in a 20mph impact are dramatically lessened. Slower speeds mean more pleasant and sociable streets where the young, elderly and infirm feel confident to be out and about, where we feel confident to choose more active travelling options which improve our physical and mental health, and the increased footfall means local businesses thrive.
Cities like Liverpool have understood that authorities introducing 20mph need to team up with other agencies and spend around a fifth of the budget on education and promotion when the scheme commences, and that this is also the best time for police enforcement, be that first warnings, prescribing speed awareness courses, or indeed the children’s courts the caller had been impressed by.
It would be great to see them in Sheffield.
You can see the dramatic impact of the children’s concerns and questioning on the adults who have chosen the option to come to be ‘tried’ at the courts, and you are left with a clear sense that they will drive more carefully.
So why not take the ‘20mph Challenge’ in this, Road Safety week?