County’s new 20mph policy set to be a lifesaver

Ambitions to save lives by making 20mph the new 30mph across Oxfordshire have been approved – but its success will depend on motorists changing their mindsets when driving through built-up areas.  

On Tuesday, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet voted to endorse proposals to make it simpler, quicker and less cost prohibitive to lower speeds to 20mph on most urban areas and village streets in places where it is both suitable and supported by residents.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “There is a huge appetite for this 20mph policy and new approach around the county as towns, villages and parishes look to make their roads more pleasant and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. We are certain that it will save lives.

“Drivers have a responsibility to adhere to speed limits – whether that is 20mph or 30pmph. If they don’t, then they are breaking the law. We are expecting the new approach to have a positive impact on road safety. I believe it will become socially unacceptable to exceed 20mph in a built-up area, just as it is to smoke on a bus.”

There is a clear link between the speed of traffic and the likelihood of accidents happening in which people are killed or injured. You are seven times more likely to survive if you are hit by a car driving at 20mph than if you are hit at 30mph.

Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Speeding is a concern raised by many communities across Oxfordshire, and indeed across Thames Valley. The setting of speed limits is a matter for local authorities and Thames Valley Police will continue to enforce in line with the speed limits that are in force.”

The council will now carry out a countywide survey of parish councils to understand the potential level of interest. It is committed to working with key stakeholders including bus, taxi, and haulage companies, as well as major businesses, throughout the process.

Jean Conway, campaign leader for 20’s Plenty for Oxfordshire, said: “We are delighted Oxfordshire County Council has been so positive in supporting this much needed reduction in speed limits. We need to create a new habit, a bit like wearing seatbelts. If everyone changes their behaviour, then 20mph will become accepted as the new normal.”

Last month, as part of the policy change work, it was decided to introduce 20mph limits in the south Oxfordshire village of Cuxham on a pilot basis. Signs are due to be installed in the middle of November.

Four more pilot schemes, in Long Wittenham, Wallingford Central, Wallingford North, and Kirtlington, are also planned – following consultations.

More information, including details about how towns, parishes and villages can register an interest in bringing in 20mph limits, are available on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

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