It would require a change to the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act, "There are already quite a lot of lightly trafficked roads and home zones with 20mph speed limits and some places such as Portsmouth and Hull where 20mph limits are quite widespread," said PACTS executive director Robert Gifford.
"We would like a default limit on all roads with streetlights unless otherwise specified."
But the Department for Transport (DfT) rejected the call.
"We don't favour a blanket 20mph speed limit because we believe that ultimately it should be the decision of local authorities," said a spokesman. "Every road is different and they know their roads better than we do."
To ensure safer road design, the report calls on the DfT and local authorities to work with professional bodies such as the ICE, IHT and IHIE on how ways to boost the numbers of highway engineers in the face of an industry skills shortage.
"Local authorities are finding it really difficult to get the trained staff they need. We feel there is a need for all the professional bodies to get together with the DfT and local authorities to find out what the blockages are and what can be done to improve the situation."