Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 10:48 UK

Talks to cut school speed limits

Children on their way to school
The assembly government wants more road safety education for youngsters

Speed limits around schools in Wales could be cut to 20mph in a bid to improve road safety.

The assembly government is launching a consultation on whether traffic should go slower around schools and areas with "vulnerable" road users.

It believes the move could cut accidents involving children by more than two thirds.

Plans to lower speed limits on poor quality rural roads from 60mph to 50mph are also being considered.

It is part of the assembly government's commitment to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40% for adults and 50% for children by 2010.

Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said he hoped the consultation would give local authorities more flexibility to introduce 20mph limits.

"It is part of a recognition now in society that we have got to reduce injuries and deaths on our roads," said Mr Jones.

At the end of the day you cannot put a price on a child's life and these changes must be done
Andrew Farina-Childs, road safety campaigner

"They are still far, far too high. And we have these targets to meet and I was talking to the police at the weekend about how we can work with them to make our roads safer.

"There are a number of things we can do - that's looking at speed limits, looking at traffic calming measures, also giving advice and education to young drivers in particular.

"So it's a range of things and I think we all now must have a role to play in reducing injuries and deaths on our roads."

The mayor of Blackwood in Caerphilly county, Andrew Farina-Childs, one of the founders of the schools' 20mph safety campaign, said speeding drivers have blighted schools in his area.

"Speaking on behalf of schools in Blackwood, we have had near misses on no end of occasions where traffic is going in excess of the current speed limit of 30mph and normally they're going in excess of 40mph and upwards. So something has to be done," he said.

Speed limit sign
Lowering the speed limit will reduce accidents, it is claimed

"At the end of the day you cannot put a price on a child's life and these changes must be done."

Councillor Tony Martin, the transport committee chairman on Fife Council, which has already introduced a 20mph limit outside schools like many local authorities in Scotland, said the measures worked.

"Before we started to put in 20mph speed limits 81% of vehicles were doing more than 25mph," he said.

"Since then 58% of vehicles now do less than 20mph so they work. They work very well and they're very popular."

He added that casualty figures have also gone down.

"From 2000 to 2003 before we started we had 73 fatalities. In 2004 to 2006 it was down to 56," he said.

Tim Shallcross, spokesman in Wales for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said lowering the speed limit around schools was a good idea.

But he warned that speed reduction should be selective and not introduced across large areas.

"Cities like Portsmouth have started to introduce a city-wide 20mph speed limit," he said.

"Now, we really would oppose things like that simply because if you have a general speed limit of 20mph, motorists don't see the point of it.

"Therefore they flaunt it even when it is necessary, such as outside schools, in high density housing estates and all the other good places where this could be introduced."

Drivers kept to 20mph near homes
24 Mar 08 |  Hampshire
Review of county's speed limits
23 Dec 06 |  Hampshire
City introduces 20mph speed limit
07 Jun 06 |  Hampshire
Campaign launched for 20mph limit
15 Jan 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Drivers flout 20mph near schools
18 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Primary wins 20mph limit battle
09 Jan 07 |  South of Scotland
Councils told to cut speed limits
08 Aug 06 |  Scotland


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