WORK to introduce 20mph speed limits to more than 200 roads in Burnley will begin next week.

County highway chiefs have launched the speedbusting drive in the south-west of the town as part of a pilot scheme to prevent casualties in built-up Lancashire areas.

The speed limit will come into forced once all the signs have been erected, and motorists are being warned they risk fines and penalty points if they don’t stick to it.

Fifty accidents involving vehicles have been reported in the area since January 2005, leaving 56 victims requiring medical help.

These included 17 children who were involved in accidents, either as pedestrians or cyclists.

County councillor Tim Ashton, highways and transport cabinet member, said: “Reducing the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads is a real priority.

“We’re testing a 20mph limit to encourage drivers to reduce their speed, which should make these streets safer and improve everyone’s quality of life.

“I’ve long advocated 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

“South West Burnley is one of three trial areas in the county and will provide valuable information about the best way to introduce 20mph residential areas elsewhere.”

New ‘gateway’ signs will be installed around the 20mph area, roughly bordered by the M65 to the north, Rossendale Road to the west and Trafalgar Street and Manchester Road to the north and west. Two existing 20mph zones, in the Piccadilly Road and Calderbrook Avenue areas, and the Burnley Homezone, off Cog Lane, will be incorporated into the scheme.

Smaller repeater signs will be erected around the district in advance of enforcement beginning early in 2010.

The effectiveness of the measures will be monitored for three months and reported back to county councillors.

Other zones have been created in Morecambe and Preston and more could be introduced in other lancashire towns if the scemes prove successful.