20mph limits would come with cost and environmental downside

Aberdeenshire Council has stated its intention to reduce speeds in Aberdeenshire towns to 20 mph on most roads.

It is easy to argue that lower speeds will increase safety. But, it is also important to consider the other implications of the proposed move.

20 mph speed limits increase emissions

Most importantly, at a time when the Scottish Government has declared a climate emergency, reducing speed limits to 20 mph would increase fuel consumption and emissions.



AA Research find that reducing the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph:

  • Can increase emissions by more than 10%
  • Can increase fuel consumption by 5.8 mpg



There must also be concern about traffic flow as the former government research organisation TRL found that 20 mph limits can reduce traffic flow by 27%.

MSPs have pointed out that the cost of implementing the proposals would be around £0.5 million.

Add in the concerns about enforcement and it seems clear that the plan for introducing 20 mph speed limits needs thorough consideration.

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