Right speed limit for right road

PUBLISHED: 12:41 24 August 2006 | UPDATED: 14:47 12 May 2010

SPEED limits are back in the news again and this time it s about local roads. Many rural roads are not suited to the national speed limit of 60mph for single carriageway roads. That is perfectly obvious and the Freight Transport Association has no problem

SPEED limits are back in the news again and this time it's about local roads.

Many rural roads are not suited to the national speed limit of 60mph for single carriageway roads. That is perfectly obvious and the Freight Transport Association has no problem with a review looking at reducing the limits on these roads.

On the other hand there are many rural single carriageway roads of good standard where goods vehicles are limited to a maximum allowable speed of 40mph - and the terms of the review make it clear that consideration should also be given to raising limits as well as cutting them.

This artificially low limit, set decades ago, causes frustration to following drivers and increases greenhouse gas emissions due to the inefficient running speeds of the engines.

Since those days we have seen major improvements in the safety quality of roads, improved safety standards of vehicles and enhanced controls on drivers' skills and management.

It is entirely logical that all speed limits are reassessed so that sensible limits, suitable for the road and the traffic using it, can be introduced.

A speed limit of 50mph for goods vehicles, strictly enforced, would be much more acceptable on specified good quality single carriageway roads than what is happening at present.

The police now tend to use the expression "inappropriate speed" rather than speeding.

The review provides the chance to apply appropriate speed limits to our roads. Some of those may be lower than the current limits, but, if the road is of suitable quality, then 50mph could be an appropriate limit for goods vehicles on some single carriageway roads.

Getting the right speed limit for the right road will not only increase road safety but make the movement of cars and commercial vehicles more efficient.

And we must also not forget that lorries and vans are the safest vehicles on the road, involved in fewer accidents per vehicle mile travelled than cars and motorcycles. It is vital that we retain and further improve that good record.

GORDON TELLING

Head of Policy

Freight Transport Association

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