20mph for emergency vehicles

This month the new 20mph speed limit zones in Brighton and Hove came into force. During your driving lessons in central Brighton and Hove you will have noticed the 20mph signs painted on the tarmac and the many road signs alerting drivers to the new, lowered limit. However, according to The Argus and Speedar Radarguns not every road user is adhering to 20mph or lower.

Of 142 vehicles 95.77% were noted to be speeding on various roads that are now 20mph zones; Upper Lewes Road, Edward Street, Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue. Former council leader, Tory councillor Mary Mears opposes the new scheme and is concerned the policy has been rushed in, saying: “I think this is an absolute waste of time because to try and actually do 20mph in some places is very, very difficult…I agree with 20mph around schools because children are going about their business without much road safety awareness.”

Mears also expressed concern for the implementation of the speed limit : “The problem is, it’s only enforceable by the police, who have already said they haven’t got the money – the council have spent all this time and money on trying to cure congestion and pollution, but in all honesty, I think this is only going to make it worse.”

Some road users have also claimed confusion over the timing of the speed limit enforcement due to the council failing to remove the coverings on all the 20mph road signs by the 8th of April. Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “I think the word is out now that it’s not going to be enforced, which really undermines the whole scheme.”

The Council’s Transport Committee chairperson Ian Davey thinks the scheme simply needs more time: “It is early days and it’s premature to be assessing the effectiveness of the new speed limits after just a few hours – particularly as the signs are only just being uncovered…these changes are about reducing accidents and saving lives.”

In another bid to save lives it came apparent on the 21st of April. Emergency vehicles travelling with a blue light are exempt from speed limitations, but a memo was sent to fire stations informing them that their vehicles should try stick to a limit of 40mph when driving in an emergency situation on a 20mph road.

Steve Liszka, a Fire Brigades’ Union representative based at Brighton’s Preston Circus fire station, said: “It may be guidance but it all comes down to what happens if there’s a crash…Is the book going to be thrown at the driver?”

The borough fire commander for Brighton and Hove Mark Matthews, said: “What we do not say is never travel at more than twice the speed limit…We expect our drivers to be professional in their driving. What they must do is judge the conditions and drive accordingly…Public safety is paramount…I do not expect 20mph limits to affect our response time but we will monitor them over the next few years…If there is an impact, then that needs to be addressed.”

Don’t forget, just because other people are breaking the speed limit (and law) doesn’t give you an excuse to do so!

Worthing, Lewes and and Chichester are all running campaigns for 20mph schemes, will you be joining them or do you oppose the measures?

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Brighton, Hove & Surrounding Areas

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