AS a national and international road traffic safety expert of 44 years and resident of a rural North Yorkshire village, I regret the North Yorkshire County Council’s lack of appreciation of the importance of substantially rolling out 20 mph limits in our towns and villages (Craven Herald, January 12).

Small changes in speed can save lives and prevent serious injuries. The World Health Organisation advises that an increase in average speed of just 1 km/h typically results in a three per cent higher risk of crash injury, and a four to five per cent increase in road deaths. Pedestrians have a 90 per cent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 20mph or below, but less than a 50 per cent chance of surviving an impact at around 30mph.

Even where casualty numbers are small in many parts of our county network, largely due to low traffic levels, the inherent risk of death and serious injury in road crashes is high where there is a dangerous and unmanaged mix of motorised and non-motorised road use. If segregated facilities and safe crossings are not provided, lowering speeds is necessary to allow pedestrians, cyclists and children to travel safely. UK research shows that reducing speed limits from 30mph to 20mph reduces average speeds as well as high speeds.

Safety organisations and experts believe that a wholesale review of national urban and rural speed limits and guidance is long overdue. We need to be doing so much more nationally and locally to address the largely preventable toll of death and serious injury in road crashes.

Jeanne Breen OBE FCIHT