London, 2 Aug 2006.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Direct Line`s Demands for Rural 40 Limit "Confused and Senseless"
Road safety group, the Association of British Drivers, has suggested a new survey from insurers Direct Line takes road safety `up a blind alley`. The survey demands a limit of no more than 40mph on all rural roads because of "the high number of fatalities now occurring on country lanes".
A quick check on accidents and accident rates by road class and severity from Transport Statistics GB 2005 shows that accident rates are much lower on rural roads than urban ones (1)
Direct Line did not produce a supporting analysis but inferred that because 26% of rural drivers surveyed admit to exceeding 60mph speed limits on rural roads, speeding is 'one of the main causes of accidents'. Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD`s Director of Policy commented
"It`s difficult to see the road safety logic behind Direct Line`s rather confused argument. They don`t offer any evidence that the fatal crashes are related to people breaking the 60mph limit — because there is none. And if breaking the 60 limit were the problem, where is the sense in reducing that limit to 40mph? This reads more like a PR-driven survey than serious road safety."
McArthur-Christie concluded
"We must move away from the view that 'the answer`s a blanket speed limit — now what`s the question?' A safe speed for the conditions varies constantly, from second to second and can be significantly above or below 40mph. Good drivers know and recognise this. Blanket speed limits just increase frustration overtakes, cause drivers to tailgate and reduce respect for speed limits generally. Forcing compliance with such limits reduces attention and stops drivers thinking for themselves — a head on collision between two cars doing 40mph is still likely to be fatal, and speedo-watching, brain-dead driving makes this more likely on country lanes."

1. 70 accidents per 100 million veh-km on urban A-roads against 25 on rural A-roads; 64 accidents per 100 million veh-km on other urban roads against 46 on other rural roads.


Notes for Editors