Saturday, October 01, 2011
Increase Motrorway Speed Limit? Don't Think So.
Transport secretary Philip Hammond said the existing 70mph limit was "out of date", and that Britain needed to be "back in the fast lane of global economies". If this is an attempt by the government to open its conference with a vote-catching measure, it must be advised by Jeremy Clarkson, whose petrol-head effusions are emitted on Top Gear and in an inexplicable ST weekly column.
The Transport Ministry's 'initial analysis' indicated that such a measure would result in a 1% increase in road accident fatalities: maybe 19-25 more deaths. So that's alright then? The absurd idea that increasing our speed limit would put us back into the 'fast lane of global economies' justifies the deaths of two dozen more unnecessary deaths on the roads? Road deaths have gradually reduced since 1965 by 75%; this measure would halt the improvement.
Carbon emissions? The DfT says it would cause only a 1% increase but another bit of government- the Climate Change Committee- says it would be 3%. The World Health Organisation identifies speed as the key causal reason for road accidents- it would seem criminally counter-intuitive to reverse the reduction in casualties just to give the Conservative conference some opening va-va-voom.
Moreover, I think users regard the existing 70mph limit as flexible; I regularly am overtaken at 70 by vehicles doing what must be close to a 100 mph with apparent impunity. If we increase the limit to 80mph 100 mph will become the norm with all the damage to road safety that implies. Crap idea.