Michael Fabricant MPPortcullis

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News Release

8th August 2006


Michael Fabricant has joined forces with the Association of British Drivers to urge caution over the Government's announcement today (Tuesday 8th August) to lower speed limits in the UK. "Although increased speeds generally result increased road deaths and injuries, lowering speed limits can cause crashes too" says Michael Fabricant. "Staffordshire County Council and other Highway Authorities should be cautious about lowering speed limits on rural roads unnecessarily. I remain unconvinced that all the speed cameras in the West Midlands are really necessary and this is a bad omen for future speed limit reductions. I agree with the Association of British Drivers' call for an independent watch-dog to set new speed limits - not local councils".

The ABD argues that the new guidance, contained in Department for Transport Circular 01/2006, will see many speed limits lowered when they do not need to be, increasing tailgating, dangerous frustration overtakes all leading to a lack of respect for limits. This comes as many counties have now set artificially low speed limits on safe, clear roads yet seen no decrease in crash numbers. Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD's Director of Policy said "Speed limits are about the bluntest road safety tool we have, but since the early 1990s we've seen more and more reliance on them. This new guidance will still allow local authorities to lower limits even further - even where there is no need - so we believe it's time that an independent speed limit watchdog is appointed." The guidance in the Circular effectively allows local authorities to reduce most 60mph single-carriageway roads to 50mph or below. The safe speed for the road varies constantly, but limits increasingly bear little relation to it. This is leading to drivers aggressively tailgating those observing the limits and even attempting to overtake where it is not safe. The ABD believes this is bad for road safety. McArthur-Christie concludes "Local authorities have shown that they will lower limits even when there is no speed-related accident history and even when road conditions do not demand it. We need an independent limit watchdog to make sure that limits are set on road safety criteria, not political expediency."

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