Postcode lottery for 20mph zones: So how does your area fare?
Thousands of drivers are being hit with £100 fines after councils quietly bring in 20mph limits
- Avon and Somerset Police sent out 23,338 fine letters but others none at all
- Campaigners point to figures showing 20mph zones cut deaths and injuries
- But some motorists feel they’re used too widely and often snare careful drivers
Thousands of drivers are being hit with £100 fines after councils began quietly rolling out 20mph zones.
Avon and Somerset Police sent out 23,338 Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) letters to people accused of breaking a 20mph speed limit, followed by South Wales with 8,372 and Cleveland (1,644).
But drivers face a postcode lottery in enforcement, with police in Cumbria, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Thames Valley, police did not send any at all.
Bedfordshire issued one notice, West Mercia two, Staffordshire three, Dorset five and Kent six.
Although safety campaigners point to figures suggesting 20mph areas slash road deaths and injuries, many motorists feel they are used too widely and regularly snare careful drivers who find themselves being caught out
Nips inform drivers they have been accused of speeding and gives them the option to accept the fine or challenge it in court. The data showing how many were issued by each police force was obtained by campaign group Action Vision Zero and shared with the Sunday Times.
Although safety campaigners point to figures suggesting 20mph areas slash road deaths and injuries, many motorists feel they are used too widely and regularly snare careful drivers who find themselves being caught out.
Motoring campaigner Quentin Willson said the zones should be used in ‘certain areas where there is clear evidence of pedestrian vulnerability’ but the public needed to have faith they were being ‘applied proportionately based on empirical evidence’.
‘Blanket 20 mph limits will discredit other road safety initiatives and alienate motoring consumers,’ he told MailOnline.
‘We need the public to believe they are being treated fairly, transparently and that any punishment does not threaten their livelihoods.
‘The unintended consequence of this is an otherwise law abiding motoring population who become alienated from road safety. There are far more dangerous drivers to pursue.’
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, revealed he had seen a 800 per cent increase in the number of Nips issued to his 10,000 members over the last six months compared to the six months before.
A vast majority – 80 per cent – were for driving over 20mph, he said.
‘Across London, there has been a seismic shift in speed limits and how they are enforced,’ he told MailOnline. ‘We don’t condone breaking the speed limit, but many of the drivers we represent, who have often gone their whole life without receiving a fine and with clean licenses, are now accruing fines and points at an alarming rate.
‘These drivers are being caught out by drastically lower speed limits on roads like Park Lane, which have been unexpectedly reduced to 20mph zones from 40mph.
‘With the Met having now lowered the speed tolerance at which a prosecution is triggered and working towards an enforcement target of issuing one million fines, this has become an even bigger problem and drivers feel like they are being unfairly targeted.’
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, revealed he had seen a 800 per cent increase in the number of Nips issued to his 10,000 members over the last six months compared to the six months before
The Metropolitan Police is doubling the number of patrols in 20mph zones year on year as part of a target to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from the transport network by 2041.
It says a pedestrian hit by a vehicle at 20mph is five times less likely to be fatally injured than at 30mph.
Across the country, the level of enforcement at 20mph is about half the rate of those caught speeding on 30mph and 40mph roads and motorways.
The punishment escalates from a fixed penalty notice from 24mph to a speed awareness for those caught driving between 24mph and 31mph, if they are eligible.
Above 35mph offenders can be fined up to 700 per cent of their weekly income, to a maximum of £1,000.
Councils covering about a third of the country’s built-up areas by population intend to introduce 20mph zones, and they are expected to become the default for a third of roads in Wales from September next year.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, called on local authorities to make greater efforts to explain that 20mph areas require motorists to agree to ‘slow down a bit’ to ‘eliminate the risk of a member of your family dying in a road crash’.
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