News article

United Nations: maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix

The United Nations is calling on policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) where people walk, live and play. The appeal is done at the start on May 17 of the Global Road Safety Week. Lowering the speed limit should contribute to achieving the UN’s goal of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.

The discussion about lowering the standard speed limit to 30 km/h in built-up areas is also topical in the Netherlands. Following a motion passed by the House of Representatives in October 2020, CROW, the Dutch technology platform for transport, infrastructure and public space - together with various parties - is currently working on an assessment framework that should help road authorities to make safe choices regarding the designation and layout of 30 km/h roads.

New road category: 30km/h distributor road

SWOV research has already shown that a general reduction of the limit within built up areas will  require a new road category: the distributor road with a limit of 30 km/h (Dutch: GOW30). Currently these roads combine ‘traffic flow’ (the function of ‘through roads’) and ‘exchange’ from traffic from residential areas, often having a speed limit of 50 km/h, while the road layout does not meet the safety requirements: so-called "grey roads". SWOV is currently studying on which design requirements should apply to the new road category GOW30.

Investigate the impacts of the measures

Head of the department of Infrastructure and Traffic at SWOV, Wendy Weijermars: "The aim is a road design that matches a credible speed limit of 30 km/h, sufficient recognisability for the road user and sufficient facilitation of traffic flow. However, since it concerns a new road category, it is not yet clear how these design features will work out in practice and what the impact of certain choices will be on road safety. That is why we would like to study how the effects of specific road characteristics can be monitored in a before-and-after study. Preferably we would also include the effects in other relevant areas such as traffic flow, emergency services and public transport.”



Infrastructure, Policy, International