Road crash experts have warned of the potential dangers that Glasgow’s new 20mph zone could have for pedestrians and in particular, children involved in road traffic accidents.
Some investigators stated that due to the 20mph speed limit, which came into effect in Glasgow, could result in children being dragged under the car rather than being knocked aside. The 20mph zone, which has been introduced in both Glasgow and Edinburgh is set to try and reduce the number of speeding offences and the number of accidents in the heart of the city.
The Glasgow speed limit applies to areas of High Street while the zone in Edinburgh applies to more than 80% of the city centre.
The limit aims to reduce the number of accidents caused by dangerous driving and speeding with many health and safety officials finding that speed is one of the most common causes of serious injuries following a road traffic accident.
However, although many praised the introduction of the new speed limit, some experts have stated that basic rules should be followed and placed at the heart of all safety campaigns rather than a 20mph speed limit.
Richard Bentley, a former road policing officer who is now a traffic management consultant argued that travelling at 20mph could be more dangerous. He said: “There have been areas in England where 20mph zones were introduced, and accident and injury rates went up.
“A child hit by a car at 20mph will be thrown to the ground and driven over, whereas a child hit at 30mph will probably be thrown up on to the bonnet or cast aside.
Mike Natt, a former police road accident investigator, said that children in particular were at risk from the new speed limit.
The freelance accident investigator said: “The 20mph campaigners put out a lot of propaganda but they look at very narrow margins. People who say children will be safer at 20mph are not looking at the full picture.
“At slower speeds, the pedestrian is pushed down on to the road ahead of the vehicle, which then runs over them, causing serious injury or death.”
He added: “Due to their height, children are even more at risk.”
The criticism of the new speed limit was rejected by a number of officials as well as the Glasgow City Council.
RoSPA head of road safety Kevin Clinton said: “The point of 20mph speed limits is they reduce the risk of children being hit by a car in the first place. If any impacts do occur, they have less severe consequences.
“Pedestrians following the Green Cross Code and reduced speed limits are important to protect road users.”
Glasgow City Council insisted that they had carried significant research before changing the speed limit in areas of the city, and that speed surveys will be carried out to assess the impact of the changes. In a statement, they added: “No research, as far as we are aware, has ever concluded that a child is more likely to go under a vehicle if it’s being driven more slowly.”
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