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UN Global Road Safety Week 17th – 23rd May 2021 - 'Low Speed Streets Save Lives'

No. 196/2021

12 May 2021

Our Ref: V4/21

To: All Branches

Dear Colleagues,

UN Global Road Safety Week 17th – 23rd May 2021 – ‘Low Speed Streets Save Lives’

The 6th annual UN Global Road Safety Week will run from 17th to 23rd May with this year’s theme of ‘Low Speed Streets Save Lives’.

The UN campaign is sending out the message that low speed streets save lives and should be at the heart of any community. 30kmh/20mph speed limits where people and traffic mix, makes for streets that are healthy, green and liveable, in other words, streets for life.

The UN Road Safety Collaboration is calling on national and local government policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30kmh/20mph where people walk, live and play and they want these lower limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.

The UN say these lower speed limits bring a number of benefits:

  • The reduction in risk of death in road traffic accidents,

  • Safer environments,

  • Opportunity for use of alternative, safer, sustainable and inclusive transport,

  • Lower emissions and protection for the environment – lower impact on the climate.

The UN will be lobbying governments during the campaign week to make 20mph/30kmh the urban area default speed limit.

This is already the default speed limit in a number of countries such as Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. In the UK both Wales and Scotland have already committed to doing the same. Wherever you are in the UK we will be seeing more and more 20mph speed limits and therefore members who drive as part of their job and in their own cars will need to be aware of these impending lower speed limits.

The view of road safety experts, road safety charities and organisations conclude that 20mph speed limits are essential for ensuring improvements in the safety of pedestrians in urban and residential areas, (including postal workers).

Many drivers see this reduced 20mph speed limit as too slow and don’t understand why it’s now seen as so important.

Here are some facts:

  • Including reaction time, when driving at 20mph you can stop within 3 metres if a pedestrian steps out – a frightening event but no injuries and no damage done.

  • At just 5mph over the limit – that is 25mph, you would still be travelling at 18mph after 3 metres, the force of the impact would be the equivalent of falling from the roof of a house. A pedestrian will incur serious injury and a young child would likely be killed.

  • Increase speed to 30mph and you will barely have hit the brakes before you hit the pedestrian, and will still be travelling at 27mph, the equivalent of falling from the 3rd floor of a tower block. Injuries will be severe with a high probability of death.

17th – 23rd May is the UN Global Road Safety Week – highlighting the importance of respecting 20mph speed limits where imposed. All drivers are asked to please be aware and vigilant – look out for 20mph zones and always drive within the limit, even if others don’t. The law and the effects are clear – it’s not acceptable to break the speed limit.

This campaign is supported by the ‘UN Road Safety Collaboration’, ‘RoadSafe’, AIRSO, RoSPA, ‘Brake’, ‘Roadpeace’, ‘London Road Safety Forum’, ‘DfT’, ‘AA’, ‘RAC’, ‘Road Safety Foundation’, ‘Road Safety Trust’, ‘Road Safety GB’, ‘Think!’ ‘Shell’ and ‘Royal Mail Group’ (see attached WTTL Brief).

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

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