How fast is too fast?

Some of you may already be aware that the Coalition Government are currently in talks over raising the speed limit on the motorways from 70mph to 80mph. Their argument supporting this increase is based on the assertion that our current speed limit is outdated insofar as vehicles these days are far more sophisticated than they were when the 70mph speed limit was originally set back in 1965. In that regard, the Department for Transport state that fatalities on the roads have decreased by 75% since then.

It is also said that this will bring us up to speed (excuse the pun) with many other European countries, with France and Italy both imposing a maximum speed of 130kph (81mph) and of course there is Germany’s Autobahn which imposes no speed restriction whatsoever.

Additionally, though this is perhaps something of a token comment, but the Government also claim that by increasing the speed limit, this will ‘significantly’ boost our economy due to travel times becoming shorter. We’re not so sure about that one considering the DFT claim 49% of road users break our current 70mph speed limit as it is. How ‘significant’ that boost may be is therefore, something of a question mark.

Arguments opposing this increase are perhaps not quite so plentiful though, to some, may resonate at much greater levels. A view which seems common place here is that raising the speed limit to 80mph will simply encourage drivers to drive at 90mph. In that regard, environmental groups are concerned about the increase in vehicle emissions which will undoubtedly arise from higher speeds being met on the roads. Safety campaigners are equally concerned and say that an increase in the motorway speed limit will only result in more accidents and thus, more fatalities on the roads. The Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety have gone so far as to state that an increase in speed limit from 70mph to 80mph will increase motorway accidents by between 5% to 10%.

Conversely, as a road traffic accident specialist firm, we would say that the majority of accidents we deal with and indeed most accidents which occur on the roads are in fact low impact and do not necessarily involve excessive speed but driver error, though there are of course, still a number of accidents which do involve excessive speed.

Perhaps there’s just a twinkle of Sebastian Vettel in us all…? …then again… perhaps not. It would seem in this case anyway that that twinkle may in fact have been a collage of shiny red supercar brakelights…