Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 15:17 UK

Doctors support more 20mph zones

By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News, in Edinburgh

Speed limit sign
Supporters say 20mph zones save lives

The introduction of 20mph speed limits in residential roads should become routine, a leading public health doctor has said.

Stockport public health director Dr Stephen Watkins said a child hit at 20mph had a 5% chance of dying compared to 50% at 30mph.

He said not introducing 20mph zones was effectively "killing our children".

The British Medical Association conference in Edinburgh backed his called in a vote.

Speed limit zones of 20mph have been introduced in recent years, but mainly concentrated by schools.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Watkins pointed out children did not just congregate by schools.

He said: "We need much more widespread introduction of 20mph zones in side streets."

He said the difference between a two mile journey at 20mph, and a two mile journey at 40mph was just three minutes.

"We are killing our children for the sake of a couple of minutes," he said.

Over 3,000 people a year die on the UK's roads.

Work by the Transport Research Laboratory of 20mph zones across Europe found they had reduced child road accidents by two-thirds, and cyclist accidents by 29%.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said: "We encourage local authorities to introduce 20mph zones when appropriate, and many local authorities are doing so.

"Local authorities know their roads best, so it would not be right for us to tell them what to do."

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