23 Injuries every week to under 18s in 20MPH zones

  • In the last three years alone, nearly 3,700 young people have been injured in road traffic collisions in 20mph zones, amounting to more than 23 injuries every week
  • Half (52 per cent) of injuries resulting from road traffic collisions to under 18s occur in 20mph zones
  • 14.7 million drivers (37 per cent) admit they do not slow down in 20mph zones

New analysis1 by Churchill Car Insurance reveals nearly 3,700 young people have been injured by a vehicle in a 20mph zone in the last three years alone (Jan 2016 - Dec 2018), amounting to 23 injuries to those aged 17 and under every week. Of these, one in six (16 per cent) were either fatal or serious, with 643 such incidents over the past three years. Since 2016, the number of road traffic collisions (RTCs) accidents involving minors in 20mph zones has risen by 26 per cent.

While 20mph zones are safer than areas with faster speed limits, they are also in highly pedestrianised areas and often near schools, which could account for the number of children and young people injured in these areas. Those aged 17 and under are at greater risk of being involved in an RTC involving a vehicle in a 20mph zone than any other age group. Half (52 per cent) of injuries caused to under 18s have occurred in 20mph zones compared to just 21 per cent of injuries to those over 18.

The time of day also has an impact on the likelihood of children and young people being injured, as they are much more likely to be injured during rush hour and the time that they arrive and leave school, than any other period. Nearly half (44 per cent) of all RTCs involving minors occur between 7-9am or 4-6pm. During rush hour, children are more than twice as likely (2.31 times) to be involved in an accident in a 20mph zone than other time of day.

The difference between a driver hitting a pedestrian at 30mph and 20mph is substantial. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), at 20mph there is a 1.5 per cent chance of being fatally injured, compared to an eight per cent chance at 30mph.  Yet over a third (37 per cent) of motorists, some 14.7 million drivers, admit they do not slow down in a 20mph zone. Many motorists report that they do not even adjust their speed in areas with a high number of vulnerable pedestrians in the vicinity of hospitals (65 per cent), residential areas (53 per cent) and schools (34 per cent).

Despite the safety benefits of lower speed zones, nearly a third (30 per cent) of motorists find 20mph speed limit zones frustrating. One in 14 (seven per cent) motorists, some 2.8 million people, believe that 20mph zones are pointless which is why they exceed the speed limit when driving through these areas. This view is more likely to be held by men than women (nine per cent vs five per cent).

Alex Borgnis, Head of Car Insurance at Churchill, said: “The number of children and young people injured in pedestrian areas really highlights the risks associated with speeding, particularly in areas around schools. While we appreciate that it can feel frustrating for drivers to slow down, doing so significantly reduces the risk of serious injury to pedestrians.

“Speed limits are in place for a reason and 20mph zones are usually set because they are in these highly pedestrianised areas. It is, therefore, incredibly important that motorists pay attention to the speed limit and adjust their driving accordingly.  If drivers moderate their speed and children are careful when walking to and from school, then hopefully, we can reduce the number of collisions and keep everyone safer.”

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Speeds below 20mph are vital in built-up areas, giving drivers the chance to stop their car in time and avoid hitting pedestrians and cyclists. It’s deeply concerning that more than a third of drivers don’t slow for 20mph zones and instead selfishly prioritise their journey time over the safety of others. We urge all drivers to consider the impact of their speed and always stay within limits - stopping distances at 30mph are twice those at 20mph and that extra distance can be the difference between life and death.”

There seems to be a misconception among some motorists about why these speed limits are in place. One in eight (13 per cent) are more likely to exceed the speed limit in 20mph zones if other vehicles are doing so, while 12 per cent are more likely to speed if there aren’t any other vehicles on the road. This behaviour doesn’t take into account the fact that a 20mph zone is put in place to protect pedestrians and cyclists, not other vehicles.

Not only are motorists at risk of causing injury, they are also at risk of being penalised for speeding. In fact, nearly 1.2 million motorists have been caught speeding in 20mph zones, accounting for one in 10 motorists who have been caught speeding and more than the number of drivers who have been caught speeding on motorways. (1.05 million).  

London has the highest number of RTCs involving minors of any region, with 1,481 injured in the past three years, accounting for 40 per cent of the total. This is the equivalent of 7.32 children in every 10,000, while the North West (3.88 per 10,000) and South West (2.95 per 10,000) have the lowest proportion of accidents involving minors.


Notes to Editors

1        Direct Line analysis of STATS19 data for the most recently available three year period (Jan 2016- Dec 2018), analysed by age group and speed limit zone in which accidents take place

2        Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 1st – 5th November 2019

3        https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/drivers/20-mph-zone-factsheet.pdf

For further information please contact:

Emma Cava 
PR Manager (Motor)
Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 715
Email: [email protected]

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 025 6497


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.  

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200 300 or visiting www.churchill.com