CALLS are being made for 20mph speed limits to be introduced across Worcestershire – with drivers accused of treating roads like “their own personal race tracks”.
Councillor Tom Wells, a Liberal Democrat, has launched a stinging attack on “the culture” of the modern motorist and wants speeding “to be as socially unacceptable as drink-driving”.
He wants: l All new residential developments across Worcestershire to have blanket 20mph limits; l A phased programme of 30mph zones being turned into 20mph ones on unclassified roads, unless residents object; l Limits on rural roads to be reduced from 60mph to 50mph.
A motion, which was debated during a meeting of the county council yesterday, was rejected but the authority’s scrutiny board has been asked to investigate speeding.
Coun Wells said: “Some drivers regard our roads and residential areas as their own personal race tracks. We’ve all had bucketloads of letters over high speeds and it’s not acceptable.
“In many areas the only form of traffic calming is widespread potholes. We need a cultural change to make this as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.”
He said other parts of the country such as York, Bristol and Islington had all agreed 20mph limits.
Coun Wells also unearthed figures showing 33 people have been killed on rural roads in Worcestershire since 2009 and 174 were seriously injured.
During the debate all politicians agreed it was a major issue, but some insisted the proposal could cause more problems than it solved.
Coun John Smith, the cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “A blanket 20mph limit is not practical. Slower limits can cause drivers frustration, lead to drivers overtaking and can actually cause more accidents. The figures are never ideal. One death is too many, but speed limits are only one element in speed management.”
The council also said 50mph limits in rural areas would require more signs, which would lead to a cost to taxpayers and increase “clutter”. The overview and performance scrutiny board will be asked to look at the implications in more detail.
Coun Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “We are all extremely passionate about road safety, but the question is, will this work?
“There is frustration people are ignoring 30mph limits, but by reducing it to 20mph, that won’t change – it’s a cultural change we need, and that’s a long process.”
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