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Disputing validity of zone statistics
1:20pm Friday 17th August 2012 in Letters
I DOUBT if many people would be surprised if they were told that five times as many people were killed in plane crashes in 2010 than in 1920. But not many of them would draw the asinine conclusion that plane travel has become five times more dangerous over the period.
They would instead ask, “How many deaths are there per air mile travelled?” And, of course, this shows that air travel safety has improved vastly over the past 90 years.
Why didn’t you ask the same question about accidents in 20mph zones, before headlining the increase? As a well-respected local paper, I would ask you to return to your source and request the figures for accidents per mile traveled in the 20mph zones. And I’d like you to give as much prominence to the response.
David Williams, Newton Terrace, York.
• I DO wish more people were trained in understanding scientific data. The headline “Accidents ‘may be more likely’ in York’s 20mph zones” (The Press, August 15) may be grammatically correct, but the report it’s drawn from only has half the information needed to make that conclusion.
The Department for Transport raw data shows the numbers of deaths and injuries in 2011 compared to 2010, split between different sorts of roads. What it doesn’t show is the very large number of previously 30mph roads which have been turned into 20mph roads in that time.
For instance, Newcastle finished making 2,758 streets into 20mph zones at the end of 2011: so any accidents in 2010 would have been reported in 30mph roads, but in 2011 they would be in 20mph areas.
What is needed is an analysis of the numbers and type of casualties per mile, which would be far more useful. Previous data has indicated that slower roads have fewer accidents, injuries are less severe, and air pollution is reduced.
I hope the York 20mph zones are monitored before and after implementation, so we can see if they are safer, cleaner and quieter.
And if they aren’t, and there are problems, when that data is verified the speed limits could be changed back.
John Cossham, Hull Road, York.
• NEW research published by the Department of Transport featuring Portsmouth City Council, one of the first to introduce 20 mph speed limits in this country in 2007, casts doubt on 20mph speed limits as a means of cutting road collisions/casualties.
In fact, the research indicates road collisions have gone up rather than down because motorists get frustrated by restricted speed.
And the number of pedestrians and cyclists injured has increased because they are lulled into a false sense of security and take unnecessary risks when crossing busy roads.
Now will our local politicians listen and abandon any misguided thoughts that reducing the speed of traffic city-wide will make our streets safer? The message is clear: road danger merely a fickle perception.
So targeted action will be more effective than a shotgun approach of trying to hit everything that moves.
Allan Charlesworth, Old Earswick, York.
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