London, 8 Aug 2006.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Road Safety Group Calls for an Independent Speed Watchdog
New government advice on lowering speed limits may lead to an increase in crashes, a road safety group said today.
The Association of British Drivers (ABD) is concerned that guidance set out in a new document for local authorities to lower speed limits may actually increase road casualties. The Association believes that the UK now needs an independent speed limit watchdog to prevent this happening.
The ABD argues that the new guidance, contained in Circular 01/2006, will see many speed limits lowered when they do not need to be, increasing tailgating, dangerous frustration overtakes and leading to a lack of respect for limits. This comes as many counties have now set artificially low speed limits on safe, clear roads yet seen no decrease in crash numbers.
Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD's Director of Policy said
"Speed limits are about the bluntest road safety tool we have, but since the early 1990s we've seen more and more reliance on them. This new guidance will still allow local authorities to lower limits even further — even where there is no need — so we believe it's time that an independent speed limit watchdog is appointed."
The guidance in the Circular effectively allows local authorities to reduce most 60mph single-carriageway roads to 50mph or below. The safe speed for the road varies constantly, but limits increasingly bear little relation to it. This is leading to drivers aggressively tailgating those observing the limits and even attempting to overtake where it is not safe. The ABD believes this is bad for road safety.
McArthur-Christie concludes
"Local authorities have shown that they will lower limits even when there is no speed-related accident history and even when road conditions do not demand it. We need an independent limit watchdog to make sure that limits are set on road safety criteria, not political expediency."


Notes for Editors