Plans for lower road speed limits

New guidelines on speed limits for local roads in England and Wales are likely to be included in a 10-year road safety strategy launched by the Government.

Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick will seek views on road casualty reduction targets up to 2020 when he launches a consultation document on Tuesday.

Plans for more 20mph zones in built-up areas are being considered after local authorities in Newcastle, Portsmouth, Oxford and Leicester opted for the low-speed zones in residential areas.

Road safety researchers say people hit at 20mph have a much better chance of survival than those struck at 30mph. Figures show only one in 40 dies at 20mph, compared with one in five at 30mph.

Robert Gifford, of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: "The 20mph zones are proven to save lives and that is especially important when thinking about children and the elderly."

The existing casualty reduction targets for 2010 have been largely successful, with annual road deaths having dropped below 3,000 for the first time, due to improvements in car design, airbags and the compulsory use of seatbelts.

The Government has also seen a 50% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured and is on course to meet a 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents.

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