20mph Limit Compliance & Enforcement

In areas where the council has adopted wide-area 20mph limit the ideal is for drivers to see how voluntary compliance is best for all. A new social norm develops - e.g. drink driving is no longer accepted. Developing a social consensus involves joint working between agencies - Council, public health and police. Driver education, signs, lines, narrowing, telematics, pacer vehicles, speedwatch volunteers, warnings, fixed penalty notices, cameras, speed awareness courses and court summons all amplify and reinforce compliance. Humps add to pollution and so are a last resort.

Signed only limits of 20mph, 30mph, 40mph or 70mph mainly rely on drivers voluntarily obeying the law. Speeding’s consequences include inducing fear in other road users (reducing walker and cyclist numbers and exercise levels), near misses, crashes, social disapproval or being caught and warnings, fines, speed awareness courses, points and so on.  What matters where limits are changed by society is that the community and government agencies work jointly to develop a social norm that maximises compliance. This happens when most drivers believe that most other drivers are driving slower. For 20mph this builds on the established understanding that slower speeds are right for most built up area roads.

Currently Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) can decide if, or how much, resource they use reinforcing 20mph limits. Light touch policing is desirable. This involves occasional spot checks and fixed penalty notices.

Bad Police Practice

Announce no police enforcement of 20mph or only where there are casualties.


Inferior Police practice

Loan speed guns to volunteers (Speedwatch), rare use of mobile cameras in pre-announced locations pre-advertised to drivers & media. Warnings only to speeders.

Current Best Practice – Light Touch

Announce police enforcing. Speedwatch volunteers & occasional uniformed police enforcement days. Fixed penalty notice fines / speed awareness courses / points. Random spot checks & mobile cameras.  Court summons for extreme/ repeat speeders. All of this can be in collaboration with local council agencies

Active police enforcement of 20mph limits happens in London (City of London, Islington, Wandsworth, Putney), Merseyside, Oxford, Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath, Birmingham and other places.  Does it where you live?  Camera technology exists to catch speeders. Likewise there are 20mph speed awareness courses.

Rod King MBE, Director of 20’s Plenty for Us said

“A key aspect of British society is that elected community representatives set laws, professional police enforce laws and an independent judiciary decides on sentencing. Alongside community engagement the attitude of the police plays a key role in endorsing limits and ensuring driver compliance in a cost-effective way.

With 20mph becoming the norm for most urban and village streets, unless the police are taking an active role to encourage voluntary compliance, backed up with real consequences for speeders, then rather than being part of the solution to speed limit compliance they are part of the problem. Write or ring to request that your PCC publicly support 20mph limit enforcement!”

See our camera blog page for more comment at www.20splenty.org/camera_blog

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