Will 20 mph zones lead to more penalty points?

The debate over the introduction of more residential 20mph zones has been exacerbated by the release of road casualty figures for the first quarter of 2012. Although the figures are disappointing to say the least, showing a marked increase in fatalities for children, cyclists, motor cyclists and pedestrians, many interested parties still have to be convinced that lowering speed limits will provide the answer.

It is a debate that will have great significance for motorhome insurance providers, as it will with any other motor insurance company. The fact that 20mph zones are beginning to proliferate will mean more drivers will fall foul of the law and end up with points on their licence for speeding, which in turn will demand a decision on premium rates for those penalised for travelling at less than 25mph. Many who disapprove of the introduction of 20mph zones , such as the Association of British Drivers (ABD) point to the fact that accidents in 20mph zones increased by 24% in 2011 while accidents in 30mph zones hardly increased at all.

There is no doubting the truth of the statistic and many daily papers publicised the report. However, speak to road safety charities and the other myriad of organisations who support the 20mph zones and they will tell a different story. They say the increase is simply down to the thousands of residential roads in cities like Liverpool, Edinburgh and Newcastle that have now become 20mph areas. It is inevitable, they say, that the number of accidents will increase percentage wise but it will be nowhere near the percentage increase of the mileage of roads protected by the lower speed limit.

Certainly Transport Minister Norman Baker is convinced as he recently stated: “British Medical Journal research has shown a reduction in casualties and collision of around 40%, a reduction in children killed or seriously injured of 50% and reduction in casualties among cyclists by 17%.That is why we believe 20mph speed limits are useful in certain residential areas and support their introduction where it can be shown that they benefit road safety and quality of life. Authorities up and down the country have been concluding that 20mph limits are indeed beneficial to their local areas.”

So with the introduction of more 20mph zones motorhome insurance companies will find more and more drivers looking for quotes with penalty points on their licence for travelling well below 30mph. It is arguably a worse offence to speed in residential areas than it is for instance on an empty motorway although the difference in speeds may well be 50mph. One wonders if the time has come when insurance companies are given more information on the driving offence to help them set their premiums.

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