Effect of 20 mph speed limits on traffic injuries in Edinburgh, UK: a natural experiment and modelling study

Kyriaki (Kelly) Kokka*, Glenna Nightingale, Andrew James Williams, Ali Abbas, Valentin Popov, Stephen Sharp, Ruth F Hunter, Ruth Jepson, James Woodcock

*Corresponding author for this work

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Introduction: There is limited research evaluating 20 mph speed limit interventions, and long-term assessments are seldom conducted either globally or within the UK. This study evaluated the impact of the phased 20 mph speed limit implementation on road traffic collisions and casualties in the City of Edinburgh, UK over approximately 3 years post implementation.

Methods: We used four sets of complementary analyses for collision and casualty rates. First, we compared rates for road segments changing to 20 mph against those at 30 mph. Second, we compared rates for the seven implementation zones in the city against paired control zones. Third, we investigated citywide casualty rate trends using generalised additive model. Finally, we used simulation modelling to predict casualty rate changes based on changes in observed speeds.

Results: We found a 10% (95% CI −19% to 0%) greater reduction in casualties (8% for collisions) for streets that changed to 20 mph compared with those staying at 30 mph. However, the reduction was similar, 8% (95% CI −22% to 5%) for casualties (10% collisions), in streets that were already at 20 mph. In the implementation zones, we found a 20% (95% CI −22% to −8%) citywide reduction in casualties (22% for collisions) compared with control zones; this compared with a predicted 10% (95% CI −18% to −2%) reduction in injuries based on the changes in speed and traffic volume. Citywide casualties dropped 17% (95% CI 13% to 22%) 3 years post implementation, accounting for trend.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the introduction of 20 mph limits resulted in a reduction in collisions and casualties 3 years post implementation. However, the effect exceeded expectations from changes in speed alone, possibly due to a wider network effect.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Publication statusPublished - 07 May 2024



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