Raising speed limit will ease traffic jams

STEPHEN Hardy (Letters October 7) is right that motorways get you to the next traffic jam quicker and any marginal time saved (as with HS2) is academic under Parkinson’s Law.

However, properly reactive variable-speed traffic management allows free flowing rush-hour bottle-necks which decongest motorways more quickly and safely than a universal lower speed.

‘Accidents’ are caused by the inattentive ‘nut’ holding the steering wheel, driving at an inappropriate speed and attitude for the conditions, but contrary to Stephen’s politically correct belief, speed, per se, does not kill.

It is the force of impact which kills, even at low speeds.

Uni-directional motorway ‘shunts’ suffer a much lower force of impact and chance of fatality than head-on crashes.

T&RRL data of 1998 shows around 73 per cent of road accidents (64 per cent of fatal/serious injuries) occur in 20-40mph urban areas (over half in 30mph zones), compared to 3 per cent (mainly from lane changing) and 3 per cent of fatal/serious injuries on motorways.

Protected from fatal head-on collisions, free of pedestrians (43 per cent of urban accidents) and junctions (72 per cent of all accidents), motorways are far safer than towns.

Most police traffic officers and forces favour raising the motorway speed to a more realistically enforceable 80mph in keeping with today’s safer vehicles and road designs.

Road deaths in 1968 were 6,800 (with 14.3m licensed vehicles) compared to under 3,000 (with 34.2m faster, more powerful and responsive vehicles), today.

In return, the police will now stamp down on inappropriate, dangerous and unsafe driving - something which inanimate, revenue-generating speed-cameras cannot do as they allow maniacs, alert to cameras, to escape prosecution.

If Stephen is concerned with fuel economy, he should demand all vehicles be governed at their maximum efficiency (usually maximum torque) or to 56mph (90kph), like our lorries.

Then he can watch accidents escalate through frustration, and traffic stagnate with higher, cog-swapping fuel consumption.

And, to comply with Health and Safety, we will all need a hi-viz jacketed paramedic walking (no running!) ahead, frantically waving a red flag and suffering RSI as a consequence.

Safety comes from an attitude of mind, not from unrealistic, politically correct legislation.

BARRY M JONES

Bixley Lane

Beckley