Casualties go down, so the speed limit goes up?

It has been announced by the government that the national speed limit will be raised from 70mph to 80mph in 2013 to increase motorway efficiency.

For the last three years accident figures have continued to fall. The Department of Transport’s figures show that from 2009 road deaths have fallen by 17 per cent along with overall injuries which have fallen by six percent.

There has been controversy over this decision with many people retaliating and others embracing the idea.

The chief executive Mary Williams OBE of Road safety charity ‘Brake’ had this to say:
“The minister Philip Hammond is partially arguing that this move is a good idea because a proportion of drivers break the 70mph limit and that their law breaking needs to be made ‘legitimate.

“Actions of law breakers should not be legitimised. This is a selfish move that will achieve nothing other than carnage and is pandering to an uninformed few.

“What is far more legitimate is the grief of families bereaved on Britain’s motorways in horrendous pile ups at high speed, and the rights of all UK citizens to have slower, not faster, speeds on roads to enable drivers to avoid collisions.

Brake says accidents on Britain’s motorways are often in treacherous weather conditions and are caused by driver fatigue, vehicle technical problems and dangerous driving.

Williams said there is a ‘real and inevitable’ danger of accidents increasing.

She said it was: “More inevitable the faster the speeds. Higher speeds equal less time to react and avoid a collision in an emergency.”

Alternatively, transport secretary Phillip Hammond said: “Now it is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies and look again at the motorway speed limit which is nearly 50 years old, and out of date thanks to huge advances in safety and motoring technology.”

Many environmentalists and safety organisations completely disagreed with Hammond’s statement that the increased speed limit will “generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times.”

As well as safety being an issue with the new speed limit, CO2 emissions where brought into the mix by a Greenpeace spokesperson who said that the increase of 10mph will see more motorists driving at higher speeds, therefore impacting negatively on their personal fuel consumption and increasing CO2 emissions to boot.

The increase in speed limit, it is argued, will not have an effect on UK roads because many drivers already travel over 70mph on motorways.

There is likely to be plenty of discussion on the topic – the prospective changes will only come into effect in two years’ time in the UK.