London, 27 May 2001.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Strong Evidence in Favour of a Higher Speed Limit on Motorways
The Association of British Drivers has called for the standard motorway speed limit to be raised to 80 mph in a report published today.
Introduced 35 years ago, as a panic measure following a series of pile-ups in fog, the 70 mph limit has never been shown to have reduced accidents.

Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie says:

"With the huge improvements in all aspects of vehicle performance, the 70 mph limit only serves to create bunching of traffic, frustration and loss of driver concentration. Over half of all drivers break the limit, which creates a lack of respect for the whole system of speed limits, including those set for valid safety reasons."

He continues:

"The 70 mph limit was, and still is, irrelevant to the issue of stopping multiple accidents in poor visibility. These accidents will only be prevented when drivers are properly trained to avoid the pitfalls of driving along a road with few visual reference points."

The ABD has called on the Government to increase the speed limit to 80 mph on most parts of the network. Research shows that the effect on actual speeds would be an increase of less than 3 mph, but far fewer people would be breaking the law. An 80 mph limit would bring the UK into line with most other European countries. Even if the UK followed Germany's example and removed the upper limit altogether, speeds would increase by no more than about 10 mph. In addition, drivers would be more likely to heed lower 70 mph limits where they were valid.

Fears about an increase in accidents are unfounded. International comparisons show no correlation between accident rates and motorway speed limits. On unrestricted German autobahns, death rates are continuing to fall, despite gradually increasing speeds. Fatality rates on autobahns are also below those on US freeways, which often have lower speed limits than the UK.

Motorways are our safest roads, yet the penalties for exceeding the obsolete 70 mph limit are far tougher than for exceeding other speed limits. This is an anomaly that must be addressed.

Effects on emissions of toxic pollutants and CO2 would be negligible, as would noise levels. On the other hand, the value of time savings would greatly outweigh the cost of extra fuel used.

Chairman Brian Gregory concludes:

"The ABD's comprehensive study shows that an increase in the motorway speed limit is long overdue. Predictions of carnage and environmental devastation are totally unfounded. A higher limit would allow drivers to go about their business without the constant threat of prosecution for driving at a safe speed."
Read the full report

Notes for Editors