Intended for healthcare professionals


Reducing the speed limit to 20 mph in urban areas

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1160

Child deaths and injuries would be decreased

  1. Paul Pilkington, trainee public health specialist, South West Region. (
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    Road traffic accidents continue to pose a major threat to the health of children in the United Kingdom. Attention is often focused on deaths on the road during holiday seasons, but deaths and injuries occur all year round. Britain has one of the worst child pedestrian casualty rates in Europe, with 140 children being killed on its roads each year.1 There is now a new weapon available to tackle this problem: since last year local authorities have had the power to impose 20 mph (32 kph) speed limits in urban areas.

    Speed is a major factor in road accidents. According to the Department of the Environment, Transport, and the Regions,inappropriate and excessive speed on the roads accounts for around 1200 deaths a year.2 Lack of speed restrictions rather than increased exposure to traffic has been shown to account for the excess deaths among child …

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