Monday, 14 March 2011

New Speed Limits

Some of you may only have seen the above on various German autobahns although France have a limit of 81mph and in Ireland, Spain and Portugal it's 75pmh. 

Back in the 70s and 80s in Germany you had - and still have - to watch your speed because limits vary on certain autobahns, yet that country insists their speed limits are relevant to the specific road environment.  Some autobahns have no limits whatsoever.

Now it appears the UK may be introducing changes in motorway limits with ministers hoping to get the 80mph measure through Westminster before MPs break up for their holidays in July.  They are still considering whether it should be 80mph on all motorways or just the 'quieter' ones.  That would mean that the M25 and other motorways to northern cities such as Manchester and Liverpool would stay at 70.

MPs are also considering if the new limit would apply at night, when traffic is lighter, or in good weather.

How do we define 'night'.  Would drivers be expected to take note of lighting-up times prior to a motorway journey?

Of course the greenies will be puce with anger because it seems driving at 80mph consumes 20% more fuel than a speed of 70mph. If they were paying for my diesel I may be courteous and listen, but they aren't, so I will drive as fast as the law allows if I so desire.

Another protest comes from the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety who oppose the move claiming it would increase motorway casualties by between 5 and 10%.  Their voices have been stilled by the official figures, which detail only 132 of the 2,200 road deaths were on motorways in 2009, making them the safest roads on which to drive. 

It's about time a higher limit was introduced on motorways and I'm all for it. There's no mention of upping limits on other roads; they will remain unchanged and quite rightly.


Woodsy42 said...

The french limits are weather dependent. 130K/hr if dry and 110 if wet on motorways 110/100 on dual carriageways I think.

NB, who does these capchas, so often they are apposite - I just got 'dings'.

Affer said...

With the UK's population steadily rising way above the 20 million or so that many experts seem to think is its sustainable level, perhaps it's time to raise the national speed limit to, say, 100mph, with a minimum of 50. People that don't like driving would stay off the roads, and those that do could enjoy themselves in an "on the Beach"-style fun-cull.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that info Woodsy. I'm quite ignorant of French speeds.

I sit here doing the capchas - didn't you know?

subrosa said...

Doesn't that happen already in some parts of the country Affer? In other areas of course many never experience 50mph because of jams.

Anonymous said...

As most people ignore the speed limits on the only motorways I drive on, I can't see it would make much difference. And we have so few in this country anyway. The Westminster governments kept on building more and more of them all over England and completely neglected Scotland. Funny that, as we paid the same road tax. I have to say that now we have our own government, they've not done much better. The A9 is still a third world road in many parts.

I usually drive around 70, mainly because I don't want to flog my small car's engine to death, and because I don't want to pay even more horrendous fuel bills. (Not I hasten to add because I give a thought about the planet, because when I'm finished with it, it can simple fizzle up and bust!)

Anyway, as I am driving along at about 70, there is an endless stream of cars and even vans go flashing past me at 80 or 90 mph.

Does the English government still have the right to set OUR speed limits on OUR roads?

subrosa said...

Must admit Tris, I'm guilty of nipping along around 75-80 at times. Depends how empty the road is really. Also my wee thing gives amazing mpg so perhaps that's part of it.

They do at present Tris. Only when we take responsibility for our own country will that change.

JRB said...

Motorway? What’s a motorway?

Here in the Highlands we don’t even have adequate dual-carriageways.
Besides, with the ever escalating fuel prices, soon no-one north of Perth will be able to afford to drive a vehicle.

Come to think of it, there’s an old gig in one of the sheds. Wonder if I could train one of the kids ponies to work under harness?

Richard said...

"Back in the 70s and 80s in Germany you had - and still have - to watch your speed because limits vary on certain autobahns, yet that country insists their speed limits are relevant to the specific road environment. Some autobahns have no limits whatsoever."

I recently rode across Germany for the first time, and I was very impressed with the standard of motorway driving. On the unrestricted bits, everyone 'made good progress' but seemed aware of other people's progress too. So, no drifting in and out of lanes, no hogging the centre or outside lanes and so on. It was quite possible to travel for many miles at 120-130 and feel quite safe. When there were roadworks, the signage was incremental - first 120 kph, then 100, then 80p, then 60 and so on - and the traffic ALL slowed down in unison to obey them. It felt like being part of a choreographed production. Before anyone says it's just Teutonic obedience to rules, I would add that the moment the roadworks were passed, there was a sign saying the speed limit was finished too. In other words, because everyone could see that the speed limits were there for a reason, and were removed as soon as practicable, they were obeyed. Contrast that with the UK, where you can often see mile after mile of empty motorway with a 50 limit (and curiously a speed camera at the end of it). No-one obeys those, because they don't see the reason to do so.

My solution would be to remove all speed limits except where they could be demonstrated to be absolutely necessary, and then enforce those hard. I will admit to riding well over the limit when safe to do so, but I am religious about observing 30 limits, and even more about 20 limits round schools and in residential areas. It's because I can see why they are there.

Joe Public said...


Spain has actually just reduced its limit to 110kph (~68 mph)

Of course to really help the economy by allowing people to be more productive instead of sitting on their backside in traffic, we could take a leaf out of Ghost Rider's book. He did Stockholm to Uppsala - 42 miles on public roads, in under 15 minutes.

Richard said...

I was slimmer then.

Richard said...

I'll see your Ghost Rider and raise you some anonymous nutter riding round in the Athens rush hour.

Doug Daniel said...

I think it would be a great idea to raise the speed limit. That old mantra, "Speed Kills" is completely wrong. Speed doesn't kill, bad driving does. Roads with no speed limits, filled with people who pay proper attention to the roads and the cars around them, will have far fewer accidents than roads with low speed limits, filled with idiots who don't pay attention to their surroundings.

The argument against that would probably be "yes, but increased speed increases the chances of the accident being fatal". However, if an accident is fatal at 80mph or 90mph, it'll be just as fatal at 70mph. Let's remember that the 70mph limit is completely arbitrary, and only there for historical reasons.

Cars are far safer now, with stopping distances greatly reduced thanks to better brakes and better tyres, so it's time we acknowledged that in our road safety rules. People ignore stupid rules (I'll happily admit to driving at whatever speed I deem appropriate - I'm nae driving at 70mph on an empty motorway), so make the rules sensible, and people will be more willing to follow them.

Incidentally, I think speed limits were one of the things touted as a possible addition to the Scotland Bill at a later date.

Richard said...

Doug: correct. If speed of itself were dangerous, then Concorde would have been the greatest killer of all.

I don't share your optimism on the Scotland Bill, though. If speed limits were suddenly able to be set locally, does anyone seriously think they would go up?

subrosa said...

I'd have the pony and trap going by now JRB because I see no sign of fuel costs reducing.

No, we don't have motorways. The nearest here is the A9 and the A90, dual carriageways which require upgrading.

We don't matter is the great scheme of things because we're not in heavily populated areas. Mind you, I'd much rather be here than having to travel daily on the likes of the M8.

subrosa said...

Richard, there are silly drivers in Germany but not nearly as many as here and you've outlined the reasons why. Sensible speed limits are the answer because it's not speed that kills but stupidity.

subrosa said...

Hi Joe, I wonder why Spain did that because they have a mass of new motorways they've built courtesy of EU funding.

All I can say is I'm glad I wasn't his pillion passenger. :)

subrosa said...

Richard, have some bikers a death wish?

subrosa said...

Totally agree Doug, and yes, I think there was something to do with speed limits suggested for the SB. Problem is they'll possibly be reduced on rural roads which are perfectly safe at 60.

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