A BID to slash road deaths by introducing lower speed limits has split motoring groups.
The Government yesterday said it was recommending 20mph limits ‘in all streets which are primarily residential in nature’ and around all schools.
Lower speed limits on 60mph single-carriageway rural roads and a revamped driving test are also proposed in a bid to cut road deaths by a third by 2020.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has already called for safety measures on the 14-mile stretch of Wakefield Road between Huddersfield and Wakefield, which has claimed 12 lives in the past 16 years.
A 34-year-old man died at the weekend in an accident on the single-carriageway road at Flockton. In places it currently has a 60mph limit.
Helena Houghton, from Huddersfield-based road safety charity Brake, said they had been calling for 20mph zones in built up areas for years.
She said: “It’s proven to save lives, there’s a much better chance of survival so we think it will make a massive difference.
“One in five people hit at 30mph are killed but it’s only one in 40 at 20mph. A child is hurt every 21 minutes on our roads so it really needs to be done.”
The Green Party called for the Government to show greater courage and go further to prevent road deaths.
Yorkshire MEP candidate, Martin Hemingway, said: “Yorkshire has, according the Government’s own statistics, the worst record on children killed and seriously injured in road accidents.
“While we welcome the Government’s suggestion that local authorities adopt lower speed limits outside schools, Greens are calling for comprehensive Safe Routes to School programmes everywhere.”
But Philip Gomm, of the RAC Foundation, said: “A blanket reduction in speed limits risks alienating motorists and ignoring individual road circumstances.
“When a 20mph limit is imposed it needs to command the respect of drivers and be understandable in terms of the benefit it delivers for road safety.”
And Safe Speed, a road safety organisation which is against the use of speed cameras, said focusing on speed limits missed the real issues at the heart of the problem.
Claire Armstrong, of Safe Speed, said: “In attention and frustration are the two biggest killers on the road in this country.
“Speed is a small factor, not a big issue. The authorities are concentrating on the wrong things.”
“Reducing the limits from 60 to 50, or 30 to 20, will only mean drivers will pay less attention when it’s clear and apparently safe than when they’re driving at a higher speed.
“Every driver is going to be looking down at their speedo, instead of concentrating on the road.”