The Welsh Government should set its own speed limit rather than go along with UK Government proposals to introduce an 80mph motorway limit, a coalition of Welsh organisations has said (Wales Online).
The UK Government is set to launch a public consultation on raising the motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph by 2013. But a group of 25 Welsh organisations has called on the Welsh Government to use its power to set its own speed limit should the Government in England decide to raise the maximum speed for cars.
The Sustainable Transport Cymru alliance argues that increased speeds will lead to more accidents, higher casualty rates and increased carbon emissions.
Lee Waters, chairman of Sustainable Transport Cymru, said: “The Welsh Government has a strong record on road safety, but to sustain this we must continue to make bold decisions that are in the interests of all Welsh people, not the speed of a few.
“Ignoring the argument that this decision has the potential to raise our oil consumption and carbon emissions at a time when we need to cut both, this decision also has the potential to devastate family lives.”
The coalition, which includes bus operators, public transport user groups and campaigners, pointed to a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) which opposed the speed increase.
The BMJ article said: “It is intuitive that higher speeds will result in more collisions and that collisions at such speeds are likely to result in more serious injuries and deaths, a perception supported by the evidence.
“However, the health consequences extend beyond road safety. They include greater emissions and consequent air pollution, and, potentially, rising levels of obesity as a result of increased car use among those taking advantage of shorter journey times.”
Analysis of Department of Transport (DfT) figures also suggests an increase in average traffic speeds of just 3mph – a typical change for a 10mph rise – would be expected to cause more than 25 extra deaths a year on motorways and more than 100 serious injuries.
Additionally, the Transport Committee Report on Road Traffic Speed found that higher speeds would do little to reduce journey times. On the congested motorways of England an 80 mph limit might well increase them because it would create an uneven flow, says Wales Online.
The Government’s own analysis suggests an extra 670,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum will be produced as a result of the raised speed limit.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “The potential to increase the national speed limit from 70 to 80 mph on the motorways in Wales is being examined in order to provide feedback to the proposed UK Government consultation.
“The safety implications in particular will be considered with a view to presenting appropriate options to the Minister.”
Click here to read the full Wales Online report.