The DfT has paved the way for speed limits on many rural roads in England to be cut to 40mph, and for the introduction of more 20mph limits in urban areas (BBC News).
The DfT says in draft guidance that councils should consider reducing the limit from 60mph to 40mph on roads with many bends or junctions, where there is substantial development and where there is a considerable number of horse riders, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The DfT proposals are open to public consultation.
Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: "Road safety is a top priority and the guidance will help councils make evidence-based decisions to introduce local speed limits that reflect the needs of all road users."
Talking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Ralph Smyth, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "It seems strange that you’ve got minor roads, often that are just tarmaced tracks, that have a speed limit of 60mph – just 10mph less than the motorways.”
He suggested that rather than erecting "repeater" signs, councils could use 40mph zones, similar to the 20mph zones in urban areas, where there isn’t the requirement to have the signs every few hundred metres. This approach, he suggested would mean less cost and less clutter in the countryside.
Milly Wastie, vice-chairwoman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said education and awareness about driving conditions are key to reducing accidents on rural roads.
She said: "I think instead of lowering the speeds on rural roads it’s more about education and awareness and I think it’s how to drive and how to manage different driving conditions.”
Brake, the road safety charity, said it "fully supported" the proposals.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive said: "60mph is far too fast for safety on many rural roads. Ultimately we would like to see our default speed limits lowered."
English councils will also be given more freedom to introduce 20mph speed limits and use variable speed limits outside schools.
No changes are planned to the national speed limits of 30mph on street-lit roads, 60mph on single carriageway roads and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
Click here to read the full BBC News report.