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Tracker Survey of 20mph speed limits in GB

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A. Davis
added 3 research items
There are a number of challenges relating to both the support of and compliance with speed limits. The introduction of 20 mph limits in Great Britain is no exception: the recent rise in the deployment of these limits in urban settings has created a need to understand these issues in more depth. This paper reports a study undertaken by the authors that used a population wide survey of GB drivers to explore how support and compliance were interlinked. Whilst as expected many supporters said they would comply with the limits, and many opponents might not comply, more surprisingly it was also found that some supporters claimed not to comply, while some opponents of 20 mph limits were compliers. Explanations included the strong likelihood of strong moral adherence to not breaking laws amongst opponent–compliers, and self-enhancement bias amongst supporter–non-compliers. This paper explores the incidence of these effects and their implications in detail.
Levels of support for 20 mph limits in Great Britain are consistently high. However, these positive attitudes are not translating into similarly positive behaviour changes in terms of complying with these new speed limits. Recent research from the authors studied the complex relationship between support and compliance, with qualitative findings suggesting that copycat driving could create a ‘vicious circle effect’ that leads to increased levels of non-compliance. However it is also possible that an alternative ‘virtuous circle’ effect may emerge from the high levels of societal support for 20 mph limits pressurising drivers to comply with speed limits. In this work the authors investigated these issues and we report on data and analysis of a large scale survey of drivers and residents undertaken in Great Britain. We explain the origins of vicious and virtuous circles in driver behaviour and study the data from the survey, offering an analysis of attitudes and claimed behaviours that has implications for policy-makers and professionals working with low urban speed limits. We discuss the issues for speed limit enforcement, making reference to the public relations ‘battle’ for public opinion. It is concluded that normative compliance, triggered by community and other campaigning, may be the most realistic mechanism for countering the difficulties of government funding in promoting compliance.