Children’s Road Safety Day Held In UK Town of Guildford

Bereaved parents attend Brake event held in Guildford to teach basic road safety skills to children and support campaign for 20mph speed limits.

A survey undertaken by the Brake road safety charity and Churchill Car insurance revealed that over 80% of parents surveyed expressed support for 20mph speed limits in high risk urban areas such as school crossing points.

The “Beep Beep” road safety day was held at a children’s centre in the Surrey town of Guildford where the Charlson family suffered the tragedy of losing their son at a pedestrian crossing accident 8 years ago. This event was just one of many that are being held throughout the UK to educate young children in basic road safety skills through fun and activities.

Brake is using the events to reinforce its campaign for greater implementation of 20mph (32kph) speed zones in high risk urban areas within the UK with the country having suffered over 2500 deaths or serious injuries to children on Britain’s roads in 2010 making traffic accidents the greatest non-medical cause of death for children.

The incident at the centre of the Guildford campaign occurred in 2004, when 3-year-old Harry was struck by a car at a traffic-light controlled crossing on the Farnham Road leading to the A31 in Guildford. The courts ruled that the driver was at fault for failing to stop at a red light but found no reason to believe that the driver was travelling at excessive speed.  A local campaign to reduce the speed limit on the road resulted in a speed camera being installed on the road in 2007 to enforce the 30mph (48kph) speed limit but a reduction in the limit to 20mph has never been agreed with the local authorities.

TrafficSafe Comment:

There is still still some controversy surrounding the implementation of 20mph zones as national requirements call for 30mph (48kph) as being the minimum enforced speed limit for urban areas. However, local authorities have the power to reduce speed limits to 20mph (32kph) where certain criteria are met. The implementation and interpretation of this power and the criteria vary from one local authority to another. One criteria is the ability for vehicles to reasonably be able to achieve the speed reduction in the zone leading up to the 20mph (32kph) limit. What this really means is that you can’t reduce speed limits directly from 40mph (64kph) to 20mph (32kph).

There is also a requirement that the speed limit is reinforced with the use of appropriate traffic calming measures so that there is a reduced burden on enforcement resources since if it relies on regular police enforcement, the measure is unlikely to be effective on its own.

TrafficSafe recently visited Farnham Road in Guildford to make its own assessment of the risks at the crossing and the measures taken to calm traffic. The road leads from Guildford town centre uphill towards the A31 leading to the town of Farnham. The entire hill section from the mini-roundabout at the bottom to the end of the hill section is a 30mph (48kph) limited built-up residential area with a standard Gatso speed enforcement camera approximately half way along the length of the incline. Between the mini-roundabout and the enforcement camera, there is a school on one side of the road and a mental health hospital facility on the other. There is also a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing where the accident occurred in 2004.

The road surface is in a poor state of repair with the asphalt surface damaged and crumbling along the length of the section. The photograph below shows a view of the road looking down the hill from the Gatso camera towards the pedestrian crossing 0.2 miles (0.32 kilometres) beyond. In this photograph, the camera is oriented to capture images of vehicles travelling away from the crossing but can be rotated in the opposite direction. In terms of enforcement, the camera is too far away from the crossing point to be an effective deterrent. The mini-roundabout at the bottom of the hill is 0.1 miles (0.16km) beyond the crossing and the “natural” speed to make a safe downhill approach to the junction bearing in mind the road and weather conditions at the crossing point was between 20 and 25 mph (32 and 40kph).

Gatso Camera on Farnham Road Guildford

Gatso Camera on Farnham Road Guildford

The second photograph shows the Gatso camera facing away from the pedestrian crossing and the calibration line markings on the opposing carriageway. This kind of camera technology can’t be used to enforce speed restrictions on oncoming traffic and so would have to be turned through 180 degrees to be used for traffic travelling down the hill towards the pedestrian crossing.

Traffic Enforcement Camera Farnham Road

Traffic Enforcement Camera Farnham Road

Based on the following observations, we believe that this is an appropriate position for Surrey County Council to impose a 20mph restriction on the condition that additional traffic calming measures are implemented:

1 – The 20mph limit should start 0.1 miles (0.16km) beyond the Gatso camera down the hill and end at the mini-roundabout.
2 – Rumble strips should be installed for additional traffic calming after the 20mph restriction signs up to the pedestrian crossing (in both directions)
3 – The position of a school and a mental health care facility on this stretch of road provide the justification for a reduced speed limit.
4 – The condition for being able to reasonably achieve the 20mph (32kph) speed in the restricted section is met in both directions. From the bottom of the hill, a mini-roundabout exists 0.1 miles (0.16km) before the pedestrian crossing and from the top of the hill, a speed enforcement camera in a 30mph speed limit zone exists 0.1 miles (0.16km) before the proposed 20mph (32kph)  restriction.

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