Plans to cut speed limit on rural roads
The Government is giving serious consideration to plans to cut speed limits on most rural single-carriageway roads from 60mph to 50mph, it has been revealed.
Ministers believe that the potentially unpopular move may be needed in order to reduce the number of deaths among motorists and pedestrians on rural roads. Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick is said to have been struck by figures showing that these parts of the UK’s road network were more prone to crashes.
In 2007, there were 2,946 deaths and 30,000 serious injuries on British roads, with speed being a factor in 29% of them. Currently the speed limit on almost all single carriageway roads outside of towns is set at 60mph, except for at accident blackspots. Mr Fitzpatrick is looking at reducing these limits in a bid to improve the UK’s road safety record, which used to rank among the best in the world, but has slipped in recent years.
But AA director Edmund King told the Sunday Telegraph: “Rather than impose a blanket cut, the Government should adopt a targeted approach.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “This is something that is being looked at, but no decisions have yet been taken. Any such proposal would have to be based on robust evidence of the impact on casualties, emissions and journey times. It would also need to consider issues of enforcement and public acceptability.”
Indeed, Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said she “remained to be convinced” that a blanket reduction was warranted. “We believe that a targeted approach is more effective, leaving local authorities to take the key decisions on whether reduced speed limits are the best option for specific local roads and local circumstances,” she said.
“Rather than across the board reductions in the speed limit that hit everyone, including the safest and most responsible drivers, we believe that a successful strategy to make our roads safer needs to target problem drivers.”
This is just one of the Government’s recent range of proposals being looked at to try and improve safety, including imposing six penalty points on motorists who break speed limits “excessively”, and punishments for using mobile phones while driving.
There are also suggestions that a formal “drug-drive limit” could be introduced, after statistics showed a fifth of all road deaths were caused by drivers on illegal substances.