The current speed limit of 70mph was only ever meant as a temporary measure and originally set in 1965. We are still using the same speed limit 47 years later, even though most modern cars have a much higher maximum speed. So does this 70mph limit represent a logical and useful speed limit for motorways and other major roads?
The 70mph limit was enforced mainly due to the number of accidents and road fatalities that occurred due to – apparently – speeding drivers. Safety features in cars have improved dramatically since then, the use of seatbelts and airbags, as well as safety considerations throughout the manufacturing process of cars, that are to thank for the decreased number of injuries and fatalities since 1965. It was also in 1965 that it became compulsory for cars built in Europe to be fitted with seat belts in the front, but it wasn’t until 1983 that wearing a seat belt became compulsory. And it took until the late 80s and early 90s for rear seat belts to be made compulsory, as well as adults (and children) wearing them when sitting in the back. With these increased safety measures in just one area of the car – not to mention the rest of the vehicle which has been similarly enhanced – it would seem illogical to retain the speed limit at 70mph: a limit which was partly introduced in an effort to prevent accidents and save lives.
The UK, when compared to other countries, has a relatively low speed limit. In France, motorway speed limits are around 80mph in normal conditions and 68mph in wet weather. On the autobahns in Germany, there is a variable speed limit when necessary and often no top speed limit at all. This begs the question how have these higher speed limits affected the number of accidents and fatalities in these countries? Data from 2009 and 2010 suggests France and Germany do suffer from slightly higher fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year: 6.9 and 4.5 respectively, compared to the UK’s 3.59. However, Germany’s strict policing of the autobahns suggests that higher speed limits do not have to mean decreased safety: there is an argument that higher speed limits would increase driver concentration.
Increasing the speed limit could also mean that journeys are made shorter. Current speed limits often results in problems with traffic flow and jams on the motorway, as slower and faster motorists compete for the same space. Increasing the speed limit, and policing this speed limit strictly, would ensure that everyone knows at what speed to drive and could reduce flow and stoppage problems. It would also be the ideal impetus for government bodies to invest in further improvements on the road system in the UK, making journeys more efficient and simultaneously increasing the safety of driving in the UK thanks to better roads.
What do you think about increasing the speed limit – logical, efficient idea or are there too many negative points?
Sourced from www.motors.co.uk