Road Safety News
 

Government now considering increasing limit on dual carriageways

Tuesday 20th December 2011

The DfT is considering increasing the speed limit to 80mph on some dual carriageways, as well as motorways.

A formal consultation on allowing motorists to drive at 80mph on motorways is due to be launched early in 2012, but the DfT’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ reveals that ministers are considering extending the proposed increase to a wider range of roads than initially thought.

The DfT says: “We have announced our intention to consult about changing the national speed limit on motorways from 70mph to 80mph. We are also examining whether an 80mph should be extended on a case by case basis to some other dual carriageways.”

Supporters believe that raising the limit would aid the economy and reflect advances in car safety technology. But the plans are understood to have divided ministers, with Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, believing it would lead to an increase in carbon emissions.

A report in the Telegraph says that road safety groups have voiced concerns, in particular with existing police guidelines which allow motorists a measure of leeway under the “10% plus 2mph” formula.

If this guideline was applied to an 80mph limit, drivers would be unlikely to face prosecution at speeds less than 90mph, says the Telegraph.

Edmund King, the AA’s president, says: “80mph on a five star motorway, in a five star car, with a five star driver in good weather, is probably a safe speed.

“However, 80mph on some lower standard stretches of motorway and dual carriageway is probably not a safe speed. We need to ensure that adequate enforcement and highway safety standards are in place before contemplating increasing speed limits.”

His concerns were shared by Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, who said: “While I accept that there is a perfectly legitimate case for reviewing the speed limit on motorways, I would be very concerned about extending it to dual-carriageways.

“These have often been designed for lower speeds and are used by a variety of traffic, often for local journeys. The Government should think very carefully before extending such a proposal to completely inappropriate routes.”

Click here to read the DfT’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ report, or click here for the Telegraph report.

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It's not the road layout, type of road or the safety of current vehicles that is of concern to me, it's the ability of drivers to drive safely at an 80mph limit. We do not spend enough time and effort ensuring drivers' knowledge, skill and ability is maintained and improved to cope with current and future driving requirements.
Mike, Nottingham

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I don't know what all the fuss and rheteric is all about. It's only been spoken about by some. Who are these some, we are not told.

At a time when the public are going to have to conform to a blanket [or almost blanket] compulsary 20 mph limit on town and other roads and streets. we are being fed this red herring of increeasing, sorry talked about possibly increasing, the upper speed limit to 80 mph.

We all know that the optimum fuel economy of a vehicle is in the region of 57/60 mph. And nothing is going to make ministers accept a higher limit due to that fact alone.
bob craven

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Limits should depend upon the standard of the road. Some dual carriageways are higher standard than some motorways. Only when limits relate to what drivers can see is realistic and reasoned will we reinstall respect for limits. They should be a useful tool to show drivers when and where they need to slow down. Instead a useful road safety tool has been systematically destroyed by uneducated politicians installing nonsensical limits which drivers can all too often see are safe to exceed.
Michael Kaminski

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The speed question is a difficult problem for democracies to address. If over 50% of people speed, then by democratic principle the speed limit should be raised.

As a safety engineer I understand the relationship between speed and the severity of collisions. Your average driver probably doesnít consider the possibility of being involved in a collision, and therefore donít temper their behaviour accordingly.

Speed limits could be set at 30mph across all roads, which would reduce collision severities, almost reducing fatal injuries to zero. However this would be unpopular. So itís always a balancing act as to what the driving public are willing to put up with in terms of delay verses whatís acceptable in terms of safety.

The safer roads and vehicles become, the faster people will want to go!
Adam, Hants

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Already a majority of drivers in the UK acknowledge that they regularly speed. The speed that people drive at often is a reflection of the type of road that they find themselves on. There are frequent scenarios of urban dual carriageways where limits are 30/40mph and are regularly infringed. This endangers the life of other people on foot/bicycle and encourages them not to use these roads.

Slower/responsible speeds should be encouraged by the government. A car travelling at high speed in itself is not dangerous for the occupants of the vehicle because of the safety features which have been built in, and providing that the driver takes reasonable care. But, anyone who is on the outside of that vehicle not protected by an exoskeleton of a car, stands a much higher risk of being killed or seriously injured the higher the speed that the car is travelling at. If the speed limit is increased on dual carriageways we are likely to see the average speeds increase, along with costs to society as more violent/dangerous collisions occur.
Jon Irwin - Tooting

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The difficulty with dual carriageways are the additional hazards, crossing traffic, pedestrians, horses, tractors, roundabout, traffic lights etc. This seems a costly and unnecessary exercise to me. It definitely is not a step towards reducing road death in the UK.
A.Green Northants

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80 mph on motorways is cheap, just an act of parliament, as the the NSL signs do not have 70 on them. But how will that work on dual carriageways?

Will the NSL still be 70, but some dual carriageways will be resigned "80"?

Or will all NSL dual carriageways be 80 unless signed lower?

Either way there will be a cost of resigning, but also the possibility to run scientific tests.

Make a list of all the dual carriageways suitable for 80, then randomly select half of them to have the new 80 limit.

After some time (3 years?), those with 80 can be compared to those left at 70.
Dave Finney - Slough

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