The Town Council has written as a “matter of urgency” to Surrey County Council for help implementing 20mph zones for its shopping and residential areas. 

The council’s reasoning for the proposed introduction included safety, with the UK’s Department for Transport estimating successful 20mph schemes resulted in 30 per cent fewer casualties. 

It is also cleaner, with 20mph limits reducing tail-pipe emissions by 25 per cent compared with 30mph, and 50 per cent quieter.

The subject has already caused a healthy debate in the Herald’s letter section.

Mick Bradford of Haslemere questioned the cost of implementing a 20mph limit and said that the assertion that the lower speeds would reduce emissions is “nonsense”, adding “pipe emissions depend on what gear a vehicle is in – that is its engine speed, not its road speed”. 

Chris Harrison was quick to respond on behalf of the  Haslemere Active Travel board, explaining why the group supports a 20mph limit.

He said: “HATCIC strongly supports the proposal for a 20mph speed limit across Haslemere, noting that if SCC’s draft new policy on 20mph limits is adopted, this limit could be imposed with minimal new infrastructure, principally replacing existing 30mph signs with 20mph signs.

“Put simply, we believe the safety arguments are utterly compelling, journey times would be little changed and, most importantly, a lower speed limit would make Haslemere a more pleasant place in which to live, work and move about, on foot, bicycle and by car or van.”

Haslemere Town Council has said the implementation of a 20mph limit in the town will have its “supporters and critics” but it “expects SCC to consult with us and the wider community before any changes are agreed”.

Transition Haslemere also supports Haslemere Town Council’s call for a 20mph area in the town. Its chair, Clive Davidson, said: “There is clear evidence of the health and safety benefits of slower traffic. There have been 25 severe traffic accidents in the Haslemere area and one fatality in the last five years. 

“Anyone can check this information on the Crashmap website, which shows government data on accidents. Pedestrians are 40 per cent less likely to be killed if hit by a car at 20mph compared with 30mph – a ten per cent chance compared with a 50 per cent chance.”

A GoCompare study found speeding more common on 20mph than 30mph roads, with 86 per cent of drivers exceeding the lower limit.

But GoCompare car insurance expert Tom Banks said: “Other studies have shown that lowering the limits has helped to reduce the average speed of drivers, bringing noteworthy improvements in road safety.”

The full link to the Go Compare study can be found here.