Traffic collisions halved since 20mph zone introduced

20mph sign

Road collisions in Whickham have almost halved since the council introduced a 20mph zone across much of the town.

Collision data compiled by Tyne and Wear's Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU)* shows that the number of collisions on Whickham's roads have declined by 48.5% in the three years that the 20mph zone has been in place. Traffic collisions are reported to TADU by Northumbria Police and relate to instances were personal injury is sustained.

Before the zone was introduced in 2016, there were an average of 13.6 traffic collisions per year in Whickham. But in the three years since the new speed limits came into force, that figure has dropped to just 7 collisions per year. Serious collisions have also more than halved.

Gateshead Council also compared the Whickham collision data with data from across the borough and found that the overall number of traffic collisions in Gateshead had fallen by 23.8% since 2016 - which means the decline in the number of collisions in Whickham has been twice the borough average.

It's not all good news, though. Recent traffic surveys suggest that vehicle speeds are lower but still well above 20mph, and in some places traffic speed has actually increased, raising concern about child safety. Gateshead Council will now be revisiting parts of the scheme to see what additional measures could be introduced to bring average traffic speeds down to a more reasonable average of 24mph.

Traffic surveys carried out by Gateshead Council since the 20mph scheme was introduced show a small overall decrease in average speeds, with virtually all roads recording average speeds of less than 30mph.  

Some air pollution monitoring has also been examined and this suggests there has been little change in air quality since the scheme was introduced.

In 2015, Gateshead Council introduced a Safer Routes to School scheme covering the west of Gateshead with the aim of improving child safety, improving people's health, making the 'school run' less polluting and more sustainable, and reducing traffic congestion around schools.

A number of 20mph zones had already been established around many of the schools in Whickham and the Safer Routes to School scheme aimed to extend these zones to the remaining schools. But it was not straightforward.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director for Development, Transport and Public Protection, explains:

"When we first looked at this scheme, our traffic engineers were concerned that some children's routes to school would take them along roads where the traffic would suddenly speed up as it crossed from a 20mph zone into a 30mph zone. We felt this could pose a very real danger to children.

"There are nine schools in Whickham, so we knew a patchwork of 20mph zones with motorists having to constantly slow down and accelerate simply wouldn't work, plus it would be annoying for drivers. This is particularly relevant in Whickham where rates of car ownership are generally much higher than the average for the rest of Gateshead.

"So, on balance, we felt a wider 20 mph zone covering all the schools, the main shopping areas and areas where traffic calming had already been introduced would be safer, less disruptive and much easier for people to understand."

Gateshead Council will now study the collision and traffic speed data closely to see what steps can be taken to reduce the overall speed limit further and to address speeding traffic in certain areas.

* The Tyne and Wear Road Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU) is jointly funded by the 5 Tyne and Wear authorities and is based at Gateshead Civic Centre. Its duties are to maintain two key databases - road traffic accident data in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, and traffic flow data in Tyne and Wear. This data is then made available both to local authorities to assist with planning and to the government's Department for Transport.

Speed limit sign saying 20
11 February 2019

Road collisions in Whickham have almost halved since the council introduced a 20mph zone across much of the town.

Collision data compiled by Tyne and Wear's Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU)* shows that the number of collisions on Whickham's roads have declined by 48.5% in the three years that the 20mph zone has been in place. Traffic collisions are reported to TADU by Northumbria Police and relate to instances were personal injury is sustained.

Before the zone was introduced in 2016, there were an average of 13.6 traffic collisions per year in Whickham. But in the three years since the new speed limits came into force, that figure has dropped to just 7 collisions per year. Serious collisions have also more than halved.

Gateshead Council also compared the Whickham collision data with data from across the borough and found that the overall number of traffic collisions in Gateshead had fallen by 23.8% since 2016 - which means the decline in the number of collisions in Whickham has been twice the borough average.

It's not all good news, though. Recent traffic surveys suggest that vehicle speeds are lower but still well above 20mph, and in some places traffic speed has actually increased, raising concern about child safety. Gateshead Council will now be revisiting parts of the scheme to see what additional measures could be introduced to bring average traffic speeds down to a more reasonable average of 24mph.

Traffic surveys carried out by Gateshead Council since the 20mph scheme was introduced show a small overall decrease in average speeds, with virtually all roads recording average speeds of less than 30mph.  

Some air pollution monitoring has also been examined and this suggests there has been little change in air quality since the scheme was introduced.

In 2015, Gateshead Council introduced a Safer Routes to School scheme covering the west of Gateshead with the aim of improving child safety, improving people's health, making the 'school run' less polluting and more sustainable, and reducing traffic congestion around schools.

A number of 20mph zones had already been established around many of the schools in Whickham and the Safer Routes to School scheme aimed to extend these zones to the remaining schools. But it was not straightforward.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director for Development, Transport and Public Protection, explains:

"When we first looked at this scheme, our traffic engineers were concerned that some children's routes to school would take them along roads where the traffic would suddenly speed up as it crossed from a 20mph zone into a 30mph zone. We felt this could pose a very real danger to children.

"There are nine schools in Whickham, so we knew a patchwork of 20mph zones with motorists having to constantly slow down and accelerate simply wouldn't work, plus it would be annoying for drivers. This is particularly relevant in Whickham where rates of car ownership are generally much higher than the average for the rest of Gateshead.

"So, on balance, we felt a wider 20 mph zone covering all the schools, the main shopping areas and areas where traffic calming had already been introduced would be safer, less disruptive and much easier for people to understand."

Gateshead Council will now study the collision and traffic speed data closely to see what steps can be taken to reduce the overall speed limit further and to address speeding traffic in certain areas.

* The Tyne and Wear Road Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU) is jointly funded by the 5 Tyne and Wear authorities and is based at Gateshead Civic Centre. Its duties are to maintain two key databases - road traffic accident data in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, and traffic flow data in Tyne and Wear. This data is then made available both to local authorities to assist with planning and to the government's Department for Transport.

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