Plans to cut the speed limit in built-up areas to 20mph could be a "golden opportunity" to save lives, road safety campaigners said.

The charity Brake has given its support to a member's bill put forward by Green MSP Mark Ruskell, which would reduce the default limit from 30mph in urban and residential streets across Scotland.

And it has said it wants more areas across the country to cut their speed limit to 20mph.

Loading article content

Forcing drivers to slow down would improve safety, Brake argued, with speed a factor in 19% of fatal crashes and 11% of road accidents in Scotland in 2015.

Responding to a consultation on the Restricted Roads (20mph Limit) (Scotland) Bill, Brake said: "There are numerous benefits to the introduction of a default 20 mph limit where people live - including improved road safety, public health and sustainable transport, and less strain on the NHS and other public services."

Director of campaigns, Jason Wakeford, added: "A default 20mph limit across built-up areas in Scotland offers a golden opportunity to save lives, promote sustainable transport and improve the environment.

"Travelling at lower speeds drastically reduces the risk of death and serious injury and encourages more walking and cycling - relieving pressure on the NHS and other public services.

"We fully support Mark Ruskell's proposed bill and want to see more urban areas going 20mph right across the UK."

A Transport Scotland spokesman said there were "no current plans to lower the 30 mph limit to 20 mph on a national basis as decisions on urban speed limits are best taken at local authority level".

He added that Transport Minister Humza Yousaf had met Mr Ruskell to discuss the bill and would consider the results of the consultation.

"The Scottish Government is committed through Scotland's Road Safety Framework to 2020 to reducing risk on Scotland's road," the spokesman said.

"The mid-term review of the framework which concluded last year identified speed, pedestrian and cyclists as priority areas for activity through to 2020.

"Our road safety partners agreed a commitment to encourage local authorities to introduce 20 mph zones or limits in residential areas and places with a high volume of pedestrians and cyclists, as set out in our 2015 Good Practice Guide on 20 mph Speed Restrictions."

But Mr Ruskell said: "It's clear that there are many communities and organisations across Scotland who want lower speed limits to improve safety and I'm delighted that Brake will join with other prominent campaign groups such as the British Heart Foundation and the British Lung Foundation in promoting the health and safety benefits of my bill.

"As a local councillor and as an MSP I have seen first-hand the frustration of communities that want lower speed limits but find the current process overly-complicated.

"By setting 20 as the default limit we can end this frustration and provide the clarity that residents and motorists deserve."