The number of road crashes in Edinburgh has decreased by a third since a 20mph speed limit was introduced in 2016, according to new research.

A research team from the University of St Andrews as well as universities of Edinburgh, East Anglia and Cambridge investigated the effect of the policy on a city-wide scale.

The research has provided compelling evidence that the introduction of the 20mph speed limit led to a further decline in the rates of road traffic collisions (RTCs). 

It found that around the time of the introduction of the 20mph policy in Edinburgh, the trend of the decreasing number of crashes transitioned from “slow-decreasing” to “fast- decreasing”.

READ MORE: Glasgow approves 20mph speed limit rollout on most city roads

In 1997, Edinburgh recorded an average of 165 RTCs per month.

In 2016, the year the 20mph policy was introduced in Edinburgh, the monthly average sat at just over 95.

By 2018, the monthly average had fallen to 64 RTCs.

However, researchers have noted that they are not arguing for causality, explaining the decline may be due to a cultural shift - rather than directly attributable to the 2016 speed limit.

Dr Valentin Popov, of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, said the research suggested the 20mph police had been effective.

He said: “We have reasons to believe that the 20mph policy was effective, at least in the short-term.

"This shows that 20mph limits are worth considering in cities where there is a concerted will to reduce RTCs and make roads safer for users.”

As part of the research, the team also noted a seasonal pattern, which indicated an RTC peak in the autumn and a trough at the start of the year.

One isolated peak in August can be attributed to the Edinburgh Festival, which takes place at that time of year.

Leader of Edinburgh City Council Adam McVey said the research vindicates the council's introduction of the 20mph police in 2016.

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He said: “I strongly welcome the research findings showing our policy of a 20mph rollout in Edinburgh has resulted in significantly fewer accidents.

"We know these changes are extremely popular in our communities with residents reporting that they’re more willing to let their kids walk or cycle to school as a result of them feeling safer. Every fatality is a tragedy.

"One death on our roads is one too many and we are driving forward further policies to make our streets safer for those walking, wheeling and cycling around the Capital."

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, A 20mph speed limit policy has been agreed for the vast majority of roads across the city.

The speed limit will cover all city's residential streets, the city centre, other main shopping areas or area where there are high levels of walking or cycling.

It comes following a decision of the council's City Administration Committee.