Speed Does Not Kill!
The Government says; "Speed Kills so kill your speed!".
Without speed you cannot travel! It is only the incorrect and irresponsible misuse of speed which kills!
In order to make safe progress the good driver assesses the accident risk for the driving environment he/she encounters and adjusts his/her driving behaviour accordingly. In a high risk traffic environment it makes sense to slow down. However, higher speed in a safe traffic environment is safe and responsible: travelling faster here buys the driver time to slow down for high risk situations.
The existing traffic regulations do recognise this principle at least in part. Accident statistics show that the urban environment is extremely dangerous whereas motorways and similar standard roads are in comparison very safe.
Accordingly the urban area speed limit is 30mph (although local authorities have recently started to devalue this limit by applying it on roads where it is inappropriately low) and the motorway and dual carriageway limit is 70mph.
The traffic police also recognise this principle. Hardly anyone in this country is prosecuted for exceeding the motorway speed limit by up to 15mph unless they are also driving badly. We have been very fortunate that our police use their common sense in policing the motorway speed limit.
The position is likely to change with the proposed introduction of the Gatso radar trap to strictly enforce the 70mph maximum. This will have perverse results. Traffic speeds will be reduced in situations in which, on road safety grounds, this is least necessary (or even altogether unnecessary).
On the other hand, in the very situations in which speed reduction measures are really needed: poor road conditions, bad weather and/or congested traffic levels — in which a speed limit of around 50 mph would be ideal — speed cameras are largely ineffective as the traffic will already be travelling slower than 70 mph anyway.
In addition, policing the 70 mph limit strictly will tend to encourage motorists to speed at 70 mph in conditions in which they should be driving much slower. It would be ridiculous for the authorities to take extreme measures to police the 70 mph maximum only to encourage behaviour which actually makes the multiple pile-up in poor traffic conditions more likely. That really would be motorway madness!
Reducing speed in safe conditions has a negative pay-off in the saving of life. US freeway accident statistics support this viewpoint. Reducing speed in high risk traffic environments will save lives. To make the most effective use of resources speed reduction measures must therefore be targeted at high risk traffic environments only.
Unlimited Safety — our aim!
Our motorways are our safest roads. However, a significant minority of motorists do not drive properly on motorways. Bad motorway drivers have poor lane discipline, do not use their mirrors, undertake, hog overtaking lanes, follow too closely and fail to adjust their speed to take account of poor weather conditions, road works and heavy traffic.
Other countries have addressed these problems. In the former West Germany proper motorway driving behaviour (safe following distances, correct lane discipline and adherence to speed limits applied only when and where they are needed) is strictly enforced!
International evidence shows there is no correlation between maximum motorway speed limits and accident and casualty rates. Consequently, some stretches of the West German Autobahn network have an excellent traffic signalling system which supports a variable speed limit regime with no upper limit! This demonstrates that it is possible to have an inherently safe road without the equivalent of our 70mph maximum!
Instead of spending vast sums on a High Tech system for tolling our motorways, the Government should invest in modern traffic signalling which actually works; and increase the motorway speed limit to a realistic level! If the Germans can do it, why not the British Government!
The Government's aim?
If the Government's main aim were really saving lives (and not just issuing meaningless slogans and dogma aimed at ripping off safe drivers in low risk environments), it would crack down on speeding in urban areas and address the problem of poor motorway driving standards.
In our search for truth let us not be influenced by what is easiest to believe.
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