An article in the Independent suggests that proposals to increase the speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways will ‘cost lives, harm the environment and produce few of the economic benefits claimed by the Government’.
The Independent article cites work by two public health experts who are “amazed” by the idea, which they insist contradicts international road safety evidence: they point out that the introduction of comparable speed increases in the US in 1995 led to a 16.6% rise in road deaths.
Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, believes that “if the limit moves to 80, most people will drive at 90”. He also says there is little evidence to support claims of economic benefits as heavy goods vehicles would still be capped at 60mph.
Professor McKee and his colleague Jamie Lopez Bernal suggest that the proposal is nothing more than a ‘populist gimmick’, adding: “It is difficult to see how any benefits of an 80mph speed limit would outweigh the costs. Past evidence shows that speed limit increases lead to substantial rises in road deaths, as well as other potential negative health and economic impacts.”
They also challenge the Government to provide solid evidence to justify its hopes of pleasing the motoring lobby by raising the limit.
Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: “[We are] carrying out detailed work to assess the potential impacts of increasing the speed limit and will consult fully on our proposals.”
Click here to read the full Independent report.