Last week the Government delivered its draft plan to tackle pollution. One of the key recommendations was cutting emissions by reducing the speed limit on UK motorways from the current 70 mph to 60 mph.

When cars are travelling at faster speeds, they emit more harmful toxins. Thus by reducing speed limits, toxicity levels will fall. The motorway speed limit decrease is one of the few recommendations that will cost nothing to implement but could make a big difference to road emissions. Enforcing it, however, is a different story entirely, although the growth of “smart motorways” (sections of motorway fully monitored by cameras) does seem almost purpose-built for this task.

This week, PetrolPrices.com conducted an in-house survey. We asked over 100 members what they think the motorway speed limit should be. The results show the scale of the task that the Government has in convincing motorists to slow down.

What should the UK motorway speed limit be?

  • 60 mph – 5.66 %
  • 70 mph – 15.09 %
  • 80 mph – 49.06 %
  • 90 mph – 15.09%
  • 100 mph – 5.66 %
  • No limits – 9.43%

[Source: PetrolPrices.com Facebook Poll May 2017]

Just 6% of motorists agree that 60 mph is a good speed limit for the UK’s motorways. Meanwhile, a staggering 79% think that the current motorway speed limit of 70 mph needs to be raised. Of those, 48% feel that the motorway speed limit should be 80 mph. 10% of respondents even go to the extreme and argue the UK’s motorways should have no enforceable speed limits, like the German Autobahn.

Statistics show that 67% of accidents on German roads occur on motorways without speed limits, resulting in twice as many speed-related deaths as the UK. Interestingly, Germany has the same number of speed-related accidents per 100,000 drivers as the UK. Speed is one of the main killers on the roads (alongside distraction), even when accident levels are the same.

These statistics come at an interesting moment. We’re seeing a widespread push from pressure groups and the government to reduce pollution and improve road safety at the same time. There is an argument that, whatever the speed limit, there will always be those who break it. However, there will also be those who comply with it. This suggests that lower speed limits do mean fewer deaths, fewer accidents and lower emissions. The question is whether the police will turn a blind eye to those who break the speed limits (as they do now), or whether there will be a huge crackdown using “smart motorways” or other methods in the near future. Only time will tell.

 

What’s your view on the proposed reduction in motorway speed limits to 60 mph? Should they be higher or the same as they are now? Let us know in the comments below.

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