Stourbridge, West Midlands ( release-news ) September 24, 2012 - Ministers are pushing on with plans to raise motorway speed limits to 80mph despite a report from the Road Safety Foundation (RSF) that the carriageways are not safe enough to cope with the increase due to the lack of safety barriers on at least half of the motorway network.
The RSF has claimed that there are weaknesses in the motorway network with motorists for the most part being unprotected if they run off the road. They also stated in their report that this, combined with other problems such as pedestrians on the hard shoulder, adverse weather conditions and vehicle spillage combined with an increased speed limit further puts drivers at risk. In addition, there is the consideration of increased vehicle operating costs through higher fuel consumption and the increased severity of crashes leading to increased costs from clean up and delays.
Paul Beresford is Sales & Marketing Director at Defensive Driver Training (DDT) Limited. DDT provides innovative, flexible and cost effective defensive and advanced driver courses. He says:
"As AA president Edmund King recently commented"Driving at 80mph in a modern car in good weather at a safe distance from the car in front on a well-engineered motorway is perfectly safe. Driving at 50mph tailgating the car in front is not. Driving at 75mph on a sub-standard stretch of motorway without a decent central reservation or run-off areas may not be safe". We all know that 80mph is now the unofficial travelling speed for most car drivers.
It's food for thought that even at 70mph. you need about 100 metres on a dry road to stop. That's about the distance between the little white marker posts that you see alongside the hard shoulder which point you towards the nearest emergency phone. Have a look at the outside lane the next time you are doing 80mph and see how many cars are nose to tail within that 100 metre span.
"The problem with making 80mph the new limit is that there is almost certain that the new "unofficial" limit will become 90mph. The same drivers in the outside lane will still be nose to tail, even when it is wet, even when there is poor visibility and even when the required stopping distances are double the norm. When it all goes wrong at 90mph the average driver is in the lap of the Gods, or more likely the lap of the driver in the car behind.
"The argument at the National Road Safety Committee in 1987 was that the 80mph limit would be enforced by the Police, finally ending the myth of there being an unofficial "accepted" speed limit.
"In 2012 and in the current economic climate it's wishful thinking to expect the Police to be able to rigidly enforce a new limit across the whole motorway network. Until they do have the resources, 70mph is fast enough."
Proposals to bring in 80mph limits were first put forward in autumn 2011 by the then Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. However, if a higher speed limit is approved, parts of the motorway would stay at 70mph.
Notes to Editors
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