A LEADING campaigner for 20mph limits from York has dismissed claims by a road safety charity that many motorists oppose them.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists said its research had shown that half of drivers from the UK were against a 'blanket' 20mph speed limit, with under a third willing to embrace the idea and a fifth undecided.

It said male drivers were more likely to be against the idea than female, in particular young male drivers.

However, the IAM said drivers were very supportive of lower speed limits outside schools, with 94 per cent of respondents agreeing this was a good idea, and more than three quarters of drivers believed that 20mph speed limits helped increase safety for pedestrians.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said drivers were not as negative about 20mph speed limits as many commentators would have people believe.

“However, most drivers don’t want 30mph zones to be replaced with 20mph in towns. Many drivers still need to be convinced it would be a benefit."

Anna Semlyen, who is a City of York Councillor but said she was speaking in her capacity as campaign manager of the national 20's Plenty for Us campaign, claimed the IAM had been 'asking the wrong questions of an unrepresentative sample' and was ignoring a public health professional consensus.

"The main beneficiaries of slower speeds - children, pedestrians, cyclists, disabled, elderly and non car owners - were not asked their opinions by the IAM driver survey," she said.

"In British Household and YouGov surveys with a more representative sample, over 70 per cent support 20mph limits for residential streets and this rises post implementation.

"All the leading public health bodies, like Public Health England and the Association of Public Health, see the wider benefits of slower speeds, including encouraging exercise. Only default 20mph limits can offer wide gains to health for all."

She said 20's Plenty for Us was asking for a default 20mph limit, not a blanket limit.

"We are delighted that drivers want to protect children," she said.

"Yet 80 per cent of child casualties happen on non-school trips. Public health research on child protection says default 20mph limits are key."