The Road Safety Minister, Mr Hammond has said that trials of 80mph motorway speed limits could start next year and that raising the limit to 80mph is still firmly on the Government’s agenda.
There could be three trials of the higher speeds in different areas, and if successful they will be introduced across the country.
Speaking in a magazine interview Mr Hammond said: ‘…we are thinking about it…it would be important to have a good evidence-based trial.’
He said there will be an announcement in the autumn on the prospect of an increase and that trials could take place during 2014.‘Our philosophy is that we should have the right speed on the right road…drivers will have noticed that we have made some significant changes to guidelines to local authorities about lower speeds in rural areas…we have also made it easier to introduce 20mph limits and zones.’
Supporters of the idea argue that motorways are the safest of all roads and that cars become safer at speed. However, road safety charity Brake opposes the plans, arguing an 80mph limit is likely to ‘lead to more deaths, crashes and serious injuries’.
But AA president Edmund King said: ‘Our view is that 80mph in a modern car, in good weather, driven at a safe distance from the car in front is a safe speed…whereas 50mph in bad weather, tailgating the car in front is a very dangerous speed.’
Supporters of raising the speed limit point out that when the current 70mph limit was introduced in 1964, it was set at the flat-out speed of most cars which were pretty basic compared with today’s.
The Road Safety Foundation says that England’s motorway network is “unsuitable” for an 80mph limit.
The charity, which inspected all 4,350 miles of motorway, voiced concern at the lack of crash barriers. It found that only half the network had adequate barriers which would provide protection for motorists if they lost control of the car.
Barriers prevent a car hurtling off a motorway at high speed. In many cases they absorb some of the energy of the car, increasing the motorist’s chances of survival.
The problem has been exacerbated by poor motorway maintenance which has seen crash barriers left unrepaired after a previous accident, decreasing their effectiveness.
In addition trees in some parts of the country have been planted too close to motorways, increasing the potential risk to motorists.
“The vehicle fleet has become safer in the last decade through better crash protection. At motorway speeds, the car alone cannot protect the human body,” said Dr Joanne Marden, the Foundation’s director. “The car has to work with the motorway’s protection systems such as safety fencing to absorb high speed crash energies. In the next decade, the greatest potential for reducing deaths is on higher-speed roads outside built-up areas.”
Edmund King, the AA’s president sounded a note of caution. “Some stretches of motorway are more suitable for 80mph than others. If you don’t have adequate central reservation barriers, a hard shoulder and variable speed limit message signs then the road is not safe for 80mph.”
Road Accident Statistics for British Roads 2012/2013
Last year saw the first increase for a number of years for deaths and serious injuries on our roads. The number has increased to 1900 fatalities and nearly 23,000 seriously injured. That’s enough fatalities to fill 4 jumbo jets and enough seriously injured to fill the Oval cricket ground.
So Where Are Most Road Accidents Happening?
Government statistics show that 106 people died on the motorways in 2011 and 740 people were seriously injured. Surprising, considering that’s out of a total of 23,000 serious injuries right across the UK, although, motorways consist of driving in straight lines but at a much higher speed.
The Government is said to understand this but yet it would appear is still considering raising the speed limit from 70 to 80 mph which would increase fatalities/serious injuries by a further 10%, FACT.
It has already been proven that 49% of UK drivers exceed the 70 mph limit. At least the same amount of drivers would exceed 80 mph if it was introduced as the new motorway speed limit.
British A Roads only make up about 10% of our road network but around half of all road fatalities happen on them. Last year 1041 was killed and 9713 were seriously injured on A Roads alone.
Rather shockingly, a quarter of all deaths on UK roads are pedestrians and they are worryingly on the increase. In 2010 there were 405 fatalities and 2011 there were 453, that’s an increase of 12% in one year. This statistic makes our roads the least safe for pedestrians in the whole of Europe.
Cyclists are over looked on a regular basis and fatalities again in 2011 were monitored. Still over 107 fatalities were recorded, even though more and more cycle paths have been introduced over the past 10 years.
Urban roads are by far the most common type of road in the UK covering nearly 88,000 miles. These account for 70% of all accidents in the UK.
Statistics compiled from the BBC2’s “How Safe Are Britain’s Roads”
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, Abacus Solicitors has a dedicated Accident and Injury team that can assist you in achieving the justice you deserve.