20mph speed limits are good

It's been proven by boffins at the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway university that many young, primary school aged children are unable to properly judge the speed of oncoming vehicles when they are travelling above the speed of 25mph.

Apparently, a trick of mind that is far more pronounced in children aged 6-11 than it is in adults means that they can not accurately tell how quickly a vehicle is approaching.

Professor John Wann, who led the research, explains: 'It’s not a matter of children not paying attention but a problem related to low-level visual detection mechanisms. Even when children are paying very close attention they may fail to detect a fast-approaching vehicle.'

The traffic illusion works by the way we judge how quickly something is approaching. We do this by watching the speed at which an object gets larger. This is its 'looming rate' , which we all have the ability to detect. But sometimes, the faster an object approaches the lower its looming rate appears. This quirk of mind is more pronounced in children than it is in adults.

According to Professor Wann the answer is not to keep your kids on a lead but to regulate traffic better, with more 20mph zones. 'Children make risky crossing judgments when vehicles are travelling at 30mph or 40mph,' he claims. 'Worse, the vehicles they are more likely to step in front of are the faster vehicles that are more likely to hurt them. So putting 20mph speed limits in sensitive areas such as outside schools, when motorists can see a reason for them, would remove that threat.'

More twenty zones then. Less kids will die on the roads, though more drivers may die of boredom driving at a snail's pace!

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