By Tim Groves
New research has revealed that there is a growing trend among local authorities across England and Wales towards bringing in 20mph speed limits.
More than one in three councils up and down the country have either already introduced 20mph zones or are planning to do so in the near future, according to a survey by The Independent newspaper.
The findings show that 27 of the 75 councils that responded have introduced or are currently considering 20mph zones, with six more waiting on new guidelines from the Department for Transport (DfT).
Transport Minister Norman Baker has said that individual local authorities are in the best position to decide whether it is right to impose such limits but he did cite research from the British Medical Journal indicating that they give rise to "a reduction in children killed or seriously injured of 50 per cent".
He also said that studies shows there are 17 per cent fewer casualties among cyclists and that the zones have led to "a reduction in casualties and collision of around 40 per cent" overall when they have been brought in around the UK.
The Liberal Democrat MP said he supported 20mph limits as long as it is possible to demonstrate that they "benefit road safety and quality of life" but some recent statistics suggest that isn't always the case.
Official figures released in August show that the total number of people killed or injured on roads in built-up areas of the UK where there is a speed limit of 20mph increased by 24 per cent to 2,262 in 2011.
Casualties on 30mph roads fell by 1 per cent to 125,494 during the same period, according to data from the Department for Transport.
A seperate Independent poll shows that there is over 60 per cent support for a blanket 20mph limit in built-up areas.
The public backing is especially strong among women, young people and pensioners. And eight million people already live in places where 20mph limits are imposed by councils in parts of London, Liverpool, Bristol, York and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.