Speed limits: We need to talk

As cars get safer, speed limits go down. Why can't we go faster when it's safe to do so?

2y ago

It’s a sensitive subject, but it’s one that we need to talk about, Speed limits. it’s not an easy change to make because so many people blame speed on crashes, when in fact it's more about the use of speed, conditions and human error that cause collisions.

Let’s be clear to start off with, I have no qualms with the current speed limits around town, they are enforced for a reason. 30mph is a sensible and reasonable speed to be travelling with pedestrians and housing nearby.

But motorways need to be addressed, while the 70 mph limit has served us well for over half a century, we need to move on. Cars have advanced, we no longer drive Ford Anglias or Austin Metros with tyres you can fit a hand around.

I was driving a new VW Passat a few weeks ago and it's like sitting in your own private techno club. It bongs, pings and beeps at any little thing that it may think you are doing wrong, it thinks you are just a human, way inferior to the technology. The thing even pulls you back into lane if you don’t indicate. If it thinks you have fallen asleep, it will take back control and pull the car over so you don’t crash!

Sure, there would be a backlash from safety groups, these so-called ‘experts’ will tell you that driving at 90 would cause death, suffering and widespread starvation – probably.

In reality, modern family cars can sit at 120mph all day without a hitch, yet we restrict them to 70mph, It’s like giving Michael Phelps armbands.

But now is the safest time to make a speed increase thanks to Britain’s new ‘smart’ motorways. These change the speed limit (and annoy drivers) according to traffic conditions. There is no reason why smart motorways could not raise the speed limit when the motorway is quiet and conditions allow.

90mph would be a good speed to set as everything from superminis to SUVs feel perfectly happy and stable at this pace in the dry. The speed could then be restricted back down the 70 in the wet and 60 in heavy rain to make the changes even safer.

Smart motorways could be amazing, they could make the UK’s transport system faster and more efficient. Instead, they mean a trip down the M1 is a challenge of keeping to the ever-changing speed limits. Please, If you're going to restrict traffic to a painful 40mph, please let us go 90 when it is fully safe to do so.

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Comments (29)

  • I made my license in Germany and made some serious miles on no limit motorways. Believe me when I say that even there where you should be used to higher speed's, the amount of people who are in no way fit for those conditions is very high. When you have to brake down from 250km/h to 100 just because some idiot decided to pull out without checking his mirror twice, you know what I'm talking about. As someone wise once said, speed has never killed anyone. It's the sudden stopping that gets you.

      2 years ago
  • One of the few articles on DT in the last 6 months that's makes sense.

      2 years ago
  • I've banged on about this for years, but it's not going to happen. Revenue from speeding would reduce, and that is the most important thing, evidently.

    There is a another factor that you haven't considered also. Although cars have most definitely become safer, there are a whole lot more of them on the road now, so the chance of coming together with another are much higher.

    The number of cars on the road is conveniently ignored when it comes time to use statistics to validate reducing speed limits or raising fines.

    It sickens me, it's lies used to manipulate us.

      2 years ago
  • I'm in SC. Our top limit is 70mph, although most people ignore this, and to be honest, there aren't enough police to really catch anyone speeding. This means that most cars go at 80mph, and there are no issues most of the time, and the times when something does happen, it is due to unsafe driving (changing lanes, being too close, etc).

    The fact is that speed is the easiest thing to measure, and so is used as a measure of "safe driving", but in reality, you can drive at 100mph safely if you are not an idiot. Try writing a law that clearly defines unsafe driving, and it is really hard, but it is really easy to just say 70mph is the limit and it is unsafe to drive faster.

    I remember an accident in Oxford on the A34 years ago. The woman was driving unsafely and way beyond the speed limit, with about 8 kids in the car including stuffed in the boot. She crashed and killed a few of the kids. The safety people turned that part of the A34 into a 45mph zone from 60mph, just because of this accident. Speed was an issue, but since she was driving faster then the limit, the actual limit didn't have anything to do with it. So why change it?

      2 years ago
  • You can blame this for highway speed limits existing

      2 years ago