Scottish Borders 20mph zones have reduced accidents

Friday September 2nd 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A police chief has accepted that 20mph zones in the Scottish Borders are a “bone of contention” while presenting a report revealing a significant decrease in road casualties in the region.

Members of the council’s Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities Board were today, Friday, September 2, informed of an overall reduction of 36.4 per cent in accidents on roads in the Borders over the last year – from 44 to 28.

There has also been a 50 per cent reduction in serious injury accidents, from 18 to nine.

Meanwhile, no children have been killed on the region’s roads over the past two years.

Addressing the meeting, Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher, Local Area Commander for the Borders, said: “I know 20mph schemes are a bone of contention and I know you will get letters all the time in relation to them.

“Our priority is casualty reduction, we want to reduce the number of casualties we are seeing on the Scottish Borders roads and you can see by the figures that we are achieving that.

“When the 20s were introduced, what we saw as a consequence was about a 3.5mph on average reduction in speeds, so that’s a good thing. An academic study has suggested that for each mile per hour you reduce average speeds that equates to about a five per cent reduction in casualties.

“The issue in the Borders is that very few of the casualties occur in built up areas where the 20s now are, most of them occur on the open road.

“In terms of speed enforcement, there are national guidelines, standard operating procedures in relation to speeding and what they say is that our efforts in relation to speeding enforcement should be in the interests of casualty reduction and only done where necessary, one notable exception to that is outside schools, no matter what the casualty profile looks like we will will enforce outside schools.

“Otherwise, with a limited resource we need to focus our intention to maximise casualty reduction, so where we’re receiving complaints that don’t have a casualty profile to reduce, and in some cases in the last 25 years there hasn’t been a single injury collision, it just dosen’t make sense for me to put what limited resources we have to reduce a casualty problem that doesn’t exist.”

In response committee chair Councillor Julie Pirone, Tweeddale East ward representative, said: “That makes very clear what the police’s role in enforcement is but it is a difficult message for those people who are still seeing drivers in their communities going above the speed limit and I think there is still some work the council has to do around enforcement and to find other ways of getting people to slow down.”

Tweeddale West ward’s Councillor Eric Small said: “I just think it is very difficult to enforce, you will always get people who are going to break the speed limit, it doesn’t matter if it is 20 or 30.”

Hawick and Denholm’s Councillor Neil Richards added: “The problem is that a lot of people say we don’t want speeding but the reality is the same characters are the ones doing the speeding. The hooligan element don’t take any notice.”

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