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."