20mph limits: Borders digital speed signs show 28mph maximum

DIGITAL traffic signs on 20mph roads across the Borders show a maximum speed of 28mph regardless of how fast a vehicle is going, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed. 

The digital signs are often deployed as a traffic calming measure, alerting drivers to their speed in the hope that it will stop people travelling faster than the limit.

In an FoI request to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) lodged by George Winter, a number of questions were put to the local authority regarding the 28mph cut-off.

According to the council, the decision to make the maximum display speed “reasonable” was taken to avoid drivers attempting to achieve “the highest speed possible”.

At the beginning of the FoI request, Mr Winter writes: “In Eddleston, Peeblesshire, the traffic speed digital display indicator is set to display a maximum speed of 28mph for traffic entering the village, irrespective of vehicles’ actual speed.”

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The request continues: “I wish to ask: Does the 28mph cut-off apply to all towns and villages using this system throughout the Scottish Borders?

“When was this decision taken?”

In response to Mr Winter’s FoI, a council spokesperson wrote: “At this time yes, where there is a 20mph limit then the maximum speed that will be displayed will be 28mph.

“This decision was taken when the trial 20mph began to be rolled out.”

The 20mph speed trial was rolled out by SBC in October as part of its Spaces for People scheme.

Mr Winter also asked to “view the correspondence” that informed the cut-off decision.

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However, in SBC’s response a spokesperson said: “This decision was taken by officers over [Microsoft] Teams meetings and there is no accompanying correspondence.”

The council’s spokesperson provided additional information in response to the FoI request.

“From past experience of the variable message signs and from discussions with other local authorities anecdotally there sadly appears to be a group of drivers who will intentionally aim to ‘achieve’ the highest speed possible from these electronic signs, hence the need to keep the displayed speed reasonable so that an unreasonable ‘target’ speed is not displayed,” said the spokesperson.

“At this time there does not appear to be a great deal of scientific data available on the effectiveness of differing threshold speeds and it is likely that the Traffic and Road Safety Team at Scottish Borders will consider a form of evaluation of different threshold speeds on overall driver behaviour, however at present there is not capacity within the section to do so.”

Border Telegraph | News