Birmingham City Council is reducing the speed limit in residential and other busy areas in much of the city to 20mph.
The affected areas are in Hockley, the City Centre, Eastside, Highgate, Ladywood, Lee Bank, Bordesley Green, Washwood Heath, Nechells, South Yardley, Hodge Hill, Moseley, Kings Heath, Sparkbrook, Springfield and Brandwood. More specific information can be found by following the links.
Anyone living or working in the areas affected will have received a number of leaflets about the changes, and will also have been invited to respond to the consultation that was held last autumn. More information can be found on the Birmingham City Council website. In summary, new signs are to be put up at the beginning of the zones, and there will be smaller repeater signs. There will also be new signs painted on the surface of the road. However, there is to be no new traffic calming.
The work is taking place at the moment, and the speed limits are coming into force as the work is completed in each area. It should all be finished by the end of March 2016. It can be difficult to know precisely when a speed limit changes – it is not as simple as the sign going up, an Order has to be published. If you are accused of breaking a new speed limit, and are in any doubt about whether the new limit was in force, please get in touch.
The benefits may well seem obvious – less fuel will be used, there will be fewer accidents, children will be safer when crossing the road, and cyclists will be in less danger. There have of course been complaints that journey times will be increased, but this does not stand up to any sensible analysis – most people only travel on these roads for short distances, and are rarely able to travel at 30mph for any length of time.
So most people will welcome the change. However, whenever a speed limit changes, there seems to be a surge in the number of people caught speeding. I have represented dozens of clients who have been caught shortly after one of their local speed limits changed. This appears to be for two reasons. First, the police make a point of using cameras to catch speeders in the early days after a limit changes in order to change the driving culture in a particular area. Secondly, drivers who have used the same route for years – or even decades – simply don’t notice the signs any more, so are not on the look out for a changed limit.
The punishments for those who speed in a 20 zone can vary enormously. Courts use sentencing guidelines when dealing with these cases, and so the starting points for sentence are as follows –
- Those traveling in a 20 zone from 21mph to 30mph can expect a fine and three points.
- Those travelling from 31mph to 40mph are likely to receive a larger fine and 4-6 points, or a 7 – 28 day driving ban.
- Those travelling in excess of 40mph will receive an even larger fine, and are likely to be disqualified from driving for somewhere between 7 – 56 days (or possibly longer if they were travelling very much faster than this).
A number of times clients have been caught speeding three times in one day, very short distances from their homes, because they had not noticed the new limit. Happily, it is possible to argue that points should not be imposed for each offence in circumstances such as these. If you are in a similar position, please get in touch to discuss how we can help.
It is easy to see how a driver might be caught several times in a week, just driving home from work. Those who rack up a number of offences in a short period of time are at risk of totting, and therefore being disqualified for a period of six months. If you find yourself facing this prospect, please do contact me to discuss how we could save your licence.
For more information on all motoring matters, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0121 201 3765.