Road environments designed to reduce vehicle speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) or lower. This is achieved through 30 km/h (20 mph) posted speed limits, supported by speed enforcement, traffic calming measures, and pedestrian facilities to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
Areas where pedestrians need to cross or walk along the road, where vehicles enter and drive through a built-up area, or where pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists are present. In practice, this would include residential areas, villages, markets, retirement villages, school zones, healthcare and hospital precincts, around places of worship, university hubs, public transport hubs and major train station zones, city centers, and central business districts (CBD).
Areas where deaths or serious injuries occur among pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists from road crashes.
The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030 (Global Plan) sets a target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030. Achieving this target requires implementation of evidence-based interventions that are known to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries. 30 km/h zones are one such evidence-based intervention.
Over 50% of road traffic deaths globally occur among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists (vulnerable road users).
Higher travel speeds are particularly harmful to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists because they do not have any/substantial protection against the raw forces of crashes (such as crush zones, airbags, and seat belts that are found in motor vehicles). Therefore, they are significantly more likely to die or sustain serious injuries at the same impact speed compared to vehicle occupants. For example, there is a 40% chance of a pedestrian dying if hit by a car traveling at 50 km/h as opposed to a 13% chance at 30 km/h. Speed limits less than or equal to 30 km/h also reduce the risk of injury and death of vehicle occupants.
At 30 km/h, a driver has a larger field of vision, improving their ability to quickly predict or detect potential conflicts on the road. It also takes less distance for a vehicle to stop. This prevents the vehicle colliding with a pedestrian, cyclist, or another vehicle (Figure 1), leading to a reduction in crashes between pedestrians and motor vehicles by as much as 28% and in injuries and fatalities by as much as 67%.
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The Safe System approach is a human-centric approach which dictates the design, use, and operation of our road transport system to protect the human road users.
A Safe System approach means any road safety intervention ought to ensure that the impact speed remains below the threshold likely to result in death or serious injury in the event of a crash. Typically, the impact speed must remain below 30 km/h for a pedestrian hit by a vehicle. 30 km/h zones protect pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
History shows that countries that have adopted the Safe System approach implement evidence-based interventions, such as 30 km/h zones, and tend to have the lowest rate of fatality per population and the fastest rate of reduction in fatality numbers.
30 km/h zones save lives and reduce the severity of crash injuries, thereby reducing economic costs and positively contributing to a country’s economic growth. The economic costs related to injury and loss of life from traffic crashes include the money needed to treat injuries, loss of hours worked, vehicle repair costs, insurance or third-party costs, and the costs caused by increased congestion when a crash occurs.
30 km/h zones facilitate and promote environmentally friendlier and more active modes of transport, such as walking, cycling, and public transportation, freeing up more space for urban recreation, commerce, and outdoor activities, improving physical and mental health, and creating vibrant cities with better livability.
30 km/h zones reduce carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from diesel cars, and particulate matter emission from both diesel and petrol cars, thus reducing air pollution.
30 km/h speed limits can be beneficial in improving traffic flow and reducing congestion. Reductions in speed limits as vehicles reach congested conditions result in a smoother flow of traffic and less stop/start traffic movement. At lower speed limits, the following distance between vehicles can be shorter (as cars need less distance to stop than at higher travel speeds), and there is improved merging of vehicles from the side streets. This allows the road to accommodate a larger number of vehicles traveling at a constant speed, thereby reducing congestion and improving travel times. The crash reduction benefits of lower speed limits also improve congestion by reducing the temporary disruptions in traffic caused by traffic crashes.
The wide-ranging benefits of implementing 30 km/h zones mean it contributes to many Sustainable Development Goals, including good health and wellbeing, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, and reduced inequalities. In Europe, 30 km/h speed limits are already central to sustainable travel policies in countries such as Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
In 1992, Graz became the first city in Europe to impose a 30 km/h speed limit, which now applies to almost 80% of the city’s road network—all residential roads, school zones, and areas near hospitals have a 30 km/h speed limit. The primary objectives of the scheme were to increase safety, and reduce pollution and noise. On roads where a 30 km/h speed limit has been implemented, the total number of crashes has decreased by 25%, and over 80% of all crashes in the city take place on through roads where the speed limit is still 50 km/h. The introduced speed limit was marked with signage and supported by police enforcement along with publicity campaigns. This resulted in a reduction of 12% in crashes involving minor injuries and a reduction of 24% in crashes involving serious injuries. Crashes involving pedestrians decreased overall by 17% and those involving motorists by 14%.
In Toronto, speed limit reductions from 40 km/h to 30 km/h resulted in a 28% reduction in pedestrian crashes between 2013 and 2018 and a 67% reduction in serious and fatal injuries on streets after the 30 km/h limit had been implemented, compared with a 31% decrease in major and fatal injuries on comparator streets. Other measures to support the lower speed limits included senior safety zones, flex-post signs, red-light cameras, watch your speed boards, and school safety zone interventions (such as pavement markings, flashing beacons, school signage, and zebra crossings).
London and many other parts of the UK have implemented 20 mph (30 km/h) zones over the past 15 years or more. These zones are typically marked by signs at the zone’s entrance and exit with self-enforcing engineering and design features (traffic calming), including speed humps, chicanes, and raised junctions every 100 meters. The introduction of these 20 mph zones resulted in a 46% reduction in death and serious injury crashes overall and a 50% decrease in death and serious injury crashes for children aged 0–15 inside the zones. These zones had spillover effects to adjacent areas where death and serious injury crashes also decreased by 8%. Furthermore, death and serious injury crashes involving pedestrians and bicycle riders decreased by 35% and 38%, respectively.
In Bristol, the implementation of 20 mph zones has led to a city-level reduction in fatalities of 63%. The 20 mph zones are marked by speed limit signs at the beginning (entry point) and the end (terminal point) of the zone and additional repeater signs within the zone. Additionally, vehicle-activated signs and road markings are used to intensify the prominence of the zone.
Warrington implemented three pilot 20 mph speed limit zones (totaling 140 roads) in a residential neighborhood in February 2009 for an experimental 18-month period. During this period, 12 serious and slight pedestrian injuries were reported, a reduction of 43% compared to the 18-month period before the experimental period.
In Brighton and Hove, 20 mph limits were introduced in the city center in April 2013. In the first year of operation, traffic speeds decreased on 74% of the routes in the city center, resulting in 327 (-45) casualties involving 0 (-1) fatal, 43 (-11) serious and 284 (-33) slight injuries.
In Bogotá, the speed limit for residential areas and school zones was already set to 30 km/h throughout the city, but drivers often exceeded the speed limit. As a result, Tunjuelito municipality was selected to pilot traffic calming measures, including chicanes, lane narrowing, and chokers at intersections, to match operating speeds with the posted speed limit. During the pilot intervention, driver compliance with the speed limit increased from an average of 29% to 86%, including from 36% to 97% in front of one school where chicanes and chokers were installed.
In South Africa, speed reduction strategies especially using 30 km/h speed limit signs were introduced at school zones with high pedestrian activity. This resulted in a 20–35% reduction in mean speeds and qualitative feedback from the schools showed widespread acceptance of the measure.
*Any travel speed reduction achieved via signage, police enforcement and/or road design measures has death and injury reduction benefits. In principle, a 1% reduction in average speed results in an approximate 2% decrease in injury crash frequency, a 3% decrease in severe crash frequency, and a 4% decrease in fatal crash frequency. Furthermore, 10 km/h reduction in a speed limit could be expected to produce around a 15-20% reduction in injury crashes, and up to around a 40% reduction in pedestrian fatal and serious injuries.
The following guidance documents can support governments in the design and implementation of 30 km/h zones:
Implementing 30 km/h zones achieves, supports, and/or promotes the implementation of:
Page 11, box 1, point 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7: Multimodal transport and land-use planning
Page 12, box 2, points 1,2,3,4,5,6,7: Safe road infrastructure
Page 15, box 4, points 1, 3, 4: Safe Road Use
Recommendation 1: Page 7 and 28: “SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES AND REPORTING: including road safety interventions across sectors as part of SDG contributions.”
“In order to ensure the sustainability of businesses and enterprises of all sizes, and contribute to achievement of a range of Sustainable Development Goals including those concerning climate, health, and equity, we recommend that these organizations provide annual public sustainability reports including road safety disclosures, and that these organizations require the highest level of road safety according to Safe System principles in their internal practices, in policies concerning the health and safety of their employees, and in the processes and policies of the full range of suppliers, distributors and partners throughout their value chain or production and distribution system.“
Recommendation 2: Page 7 and 34: “PROCUREMENT: utilizing the buying power of public and private organizations across their value chains.
“In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals addressing road safety, health,
climate, equity and education, we recommend that all tiers of government and the private sector prioritize road safety following a Safe System approach in all decisions, including the specification of safety in their procurement of fleet vehicles and transport services, in requirements for safety in road infrastructure investments, and in policies that incentivize safe operation of public transit and commercial vehicles.“
Recommendation 3: Page 7 and 37: “MODAL SHIFT: moving from personal motor vehicles toward safer and more active forms of mobility.
“In order to achieve sustainability in global safety, health and environment, we recommend that nations and cities use urban and transport planning along with mobility policies to shift travel toward cleaner, safer and affordable modes incorporating higher levels of physical activity such as walking, bicycling and use of public transit.“
Recommendation 4: Page 7 and 41: CHILD AND YOUTH HEALTH: encouraging active mobility by building safer roads and walkways.
“In order to protect the lives, security and well-being of children and youth and ensure the education and sustainability of future generations, we recommend that cities, road authorities and citizens examine the routes frequently traveled by children to attend school and for other purposes, identify needs, including changes that encourage active modes such as walking and cycling, and incorporate Safe System principles to eliminate risks along these routes.“
Recommendation 5: Page 7 and 44: INFRASTRUCTURE: realizing the value of Safe System design as quickly as possible.
“In order to realize the benefits that roads designed according to the Safe System approach will bring to a broad range of Sustainable Development Goals as quickly
and thoroughly as possible, we recommend that governments and all road authorities
allocate sufficient resources to upgrade existing road infrastructure to incorporate Safe System principles as soon as feasible.”
Recommendation 7: Page 7 and 52: ZERO SPEEDING: protecting road users from crash forces beyond the limits of human injury tolerance.
“In order to achieve widespread benefits to safety, health, equity, climate and quality of life, we recommend that businesses, governments and other fleet owners practice a zero-tolerance approach to speeding and that they collaborate with supporters of a range of Sustainable Development Goals on policies and practices to reduce speeds to levels that are consistent with Safe System principles using the full range of vehicle, infrastructure, and enforcement interventions.“
Recommendation 8: Page 7 and 56: 30 KM/H: mandating a 30 km/h speed limit in urban areas to prevent serious injuries and deaths to vulnerable road users when human errors occur.
“In order to protect vulnerable road users and achieve sustainability goals addressing
livable cities, health and security, we recommend that a maximum road travel speed limit of 30 km/h be mandated in urban areas unless strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe.“
Recommendation 9: Page 7 and 59: TECHNOLOGY: bringing the benefits of safer vehicles and infrastructure to lowand middle-income countries.
“In order to quickly and equitably realize the potential benefits of emerging technologies to road safety, including, but not limited to, sensory devices, connectivity methods and artificial intelligence, we recommend that corporations and governments incentivize the development, application and deployment of existing and future technologies to improve all aspects of road safety from crash prevention to emergency response and trauma care, with special attention given to the safety needs and social, economic and environmental conditions of low- and middle-income nations.“
Page 14: Speed management
“Establish and enforce speed limit laws nationwide, locally and in cities
Build or modify roads which calm traffic, e.g. roundabouts, road narrowing, speed bumps, chicanes and rumble strips
Require car makers to install new technologies, such as intelligent speed adaptation, to help drivers keep to speed limits”
Page 14: Leadership on road safety
“Create an agency to spearhead road safety
Develop and fund a road safety strategy
Evaluate the impact of road safety strategies
Monitor road safety by strengthening data systems
Raise awareness and public support through education and campaigns”
Page 14: Infrastructure design and improvement
“Provide safe infrastructure for all road users including sidewalks, safe crossings, refuges, overpasses and underpasses
Put in place bicycle and motorcycle lanes
Make the sides of roads safer by using clear zones, collapsible structures or barriers
Design safer intersections
Separate access roads from through-roads
Prioritize people by putting in place vehicle-free zones
Restrict traffic and speed in residential, commercial and school zones
Provide better, safer routes for public transport”
“1. Drive the implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030, which describes key suggested actions to achieve the reduction in road traffic deaths of at least 50 per cent by 2030 and calls for setting national targets to reduce fatalities and serious injuries for all road users with special attention given to the safety needs of those road users who are the most vulnerable to road-related crashes, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and users of public transport, taking into account national circumstances, policies and strategies;
2. Develop and implement regional, national and subnational plans that may include road safety targets or other evidence-based indicators where they have been set, and put in place evidence-based implementation processes by adopting a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach and designating national focal points for road safety with the establishment of their networks in order to facilitate cooperation with the World Health Organization to track progress towards the implementation of the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030;
4. Implement a Safe System approach through policies that foster safe urban and rural road infrastructure design and engineering; set safe adequate speed limits supported by appropriate speed management measures; enable multimodal transport and active mobility; establish, where possible, an optimal mix of motorized and non-motorized transport, with particular emphasis on public transport, walking and cycling, including bike-sharing services, safe pedestrian infrastructure and level crossings, especially in urban areas;
5. Adopt evidence- and/or science-based good practices for addressing key risk factors, including the non-use of seat belts, child restraints and helmets, medical conditions and medicines that affect safe driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, narcotic drugs and psychotropic and psychoactive substances, inappropriate use of mobile phones and other electronic devices, including texting while driving, speeding, driving in low visibility conditions, driver fatigue, as well as the lack of appropriate infrastructure; and for enforcement efforts, including road policing, coupled with awareness and education initiatives, supported by infrastructure designs that are intuitive and favour compliance with legislation and a robust emergency response and post-crash care system;
6. Ensure that road infrastructure improvements and investments are guided by an integrated road safety approach that, inter alia, takes into account the connections between road safety and eradication of poverty in all its dimensions, physical health, including visual impairment and mental health issues, the achievement of universal health coverage, economic growth, quality education, reducing inequalities within and among countries, gender equality and women’s empowerment, decent work, sustainable cities, environment and climate change, as well as the broader social determinants of road safety and the interdependence between Sustainable Development Goals and targets that are integrated, interlinked and indivisible, and assures minimum safety performance standards for all road users;
9. Integrate a gender perspective into all policymaking and implementation of transport policies that provide for safe, secure, inclusive, accessible, reliable and sustainable mobility, and non-discriminatory participation in transport; and ensure that policies cater to road users who might be in vulnerable situations, in particular children, youth, older persons and persons with disabilities;
10. Deliver evidence-based road safety knowledge and awareness programmes to promote a culture of safety among all road users and to address high-risk behaviours, especially among youth, and the broader road-using community through advocacy, training and education and encourage private sector participation in supplementing national efforts in promoting greater road safety awareness as part of corporate social responsibility;
13. Promote capacity-building, knowledge-sharing, technical support and technology transfer programmes and initiatives on mutually agreed terms in the area of road safety, especially in developing countries, which confront unique challenges and, where possible, the integration of such programmes and initiatives into sustainable development assistance programmes through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation formats, as well as public-private collaboration;
14. Promote the development, knowledge-sharing and deployment of vehicle automation and new technologies in traffic management using both intelligent transport systems and cooperative intelligent transport systems, in line with national requirements, to improve accessibility and all aspects of road safety while also monitoring, assessing, managing and mitigating challenges associated with rapid technological change and increasing connectivity;
17. Request the Secretary-General to provide, in consultation with the World Health Organization and other relevant agencies, a progress report during the seventy-eighth and eightieth sessions of the General Assembly, including recommendations on the implementation of the present declaration towards improving global road safety, which will serve to inform the high-level meeting to be convened in 2026;
Our definition is based on the following source: Turner, B., Job, S., & Mitra, S. (2021). Guide for Road Safety Interventions: Evidence of What Works and What Does Not Work. World Bank, Washington, DC., USA.
 In many countries guidelines direct where and how to apply the speed limit. Speed zoning guidelines may exist in addition to relevant speed limit laws or may exist without speed limit law.
 Fridman, L., Ling, R., Rothman, L., et al. (2020). Effect of reducing the posted speed limit to 30 km per hour on pedestrian motor vehicle collisions in Toronto, Canada – a quasi experimental, pre-post study. BMC Public Health 20, 56.
 Welle, B., Sharpin, A.B., Adriazola-Steil, C., Job, S., Shotten, M., Bose, D., Bhatt, A., Alveano, S., Obelheiro, M., & Imamoglu, C.T. (2018). Sustainable & Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths. World Resources Institute.
 Williams, D. & North, R. (2013). An evaluation of the estimated impacts on vehicle emissions of a 20mph speed restriction in central London. Transport and Environmental Analysis Group, Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College London.
 Job, R.F.S. & Mbugua, L.W. (2020). Road Crash Trauma, Climate Change, Pollution and the Total Costs of Speed: Six graphs that tell the story. GRSF Note 2020.1. Washington DC: Global Road Safety Facility, World Bank.
 Fridman, L., Ling, R., Rothman, L., Cloutier, M.S., Macarthur, C., Hagel, B., & Howard, A. (2020). Effect of reducing the posted speed limit to 30 km per hour on pedestrian motor vehicle collisions in Toronto, Canada – A quasi experimental, pre-post study. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1–8.
 Grundy, C., Steinbach, R., Edwards, P., Green, J., Armstrong, B., & Wilkinson, P. (2009). Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: Controlled interrupted time series analysis. BMJ 339:B4469
 Bornioli, A., Bray, I., Pilkington, P., & Parkin, J. (2020). Effects of city-wide 20 mph (30km/hour) speedlimits on road injuries in Bristol, UK. Injury Prevention, 26(1), 85–88. https://doi.org/10.1136/injuryprev-2019-043305