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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 14:28 
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Part of yesterday's Conservative statement included a pledge to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph. I have a balanced view on the subject and don't see an urgent need to alter the motorway speed limit.

Here are the main points of the argument:

For raising the motorway limit to 80mph

* legitimises current safe practice.

* possibly tends to reduce journey time on long hauls

Against raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph

* A small but possibly significant proportion of drivers would see 80mph as a target and would be less likely to slow when conditions worsened.

* 70mph may be "quite enough" for inexperienced and underconfident drivers.

* it isn't the speed limit that causes problems - it's pointless enforcement.

General observations

* Raising the speed limit is unlikely to have any significant effect on average speed.

* The idea of "raising the speed limit and then enforcing it rigidly" is completely absurd.

* I'd love to drive with no speed limit, but I think some inexperienced and incautious drivers need the guidance.

Any comments?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 14:52 
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A small but possibly significant proportion of drivers would see 80mph as a target and would be less likely to slow when conditions worsened.


Can't really agree that this is a valid "against" point. The same could be said of any exisiting limit.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 15:23 
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President Gas wrote:
Quote:
A small but possibly significant proportion of drivers would see 80mph as a target and would be less likely to slow when conditions worsened.


Can't really agree that this is a valid "against" point. The same could be said of any exisiting limit.


Yes, that's an interesting point of view. I see it this way:

Suppose 5% of drivers are crap enough that they use the speed limit as a primary means to select an appropriate speed. These are the folk who actually need to (effectively quite low) motorway speed limit. They are also considerably more likely than average to become involved in accidents.

They take benefit from this speed limit principle: "To guide the inexperienced away from exceeding safe thresholds by wild margins".

What really happens to this fairly dangerous group if we increase the motorway speed limit?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 15:42 
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What will happen is that they will monitor accidents over a period of 6 months - 2 years. Then, using the highly scientific methods of conjecture, make-believe and supposition, they'll argue that 99.9% of new motorway accidents were caused by the increased speed limit, and put it down to 60mph.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 17:08 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
* 70mph may be "quite enough" for inexperienced and underconfident drivers.


Should said drivers be on the motorway then? And I think you're correct in saying that it's unlikely to affect people's speeds on the motorway that much - I know a lot of people (myself included) probably 'cruise' at ~80mph - so if inexperienced drivers want to drive at 70mph, that's not going to be any more dangerous than their driving at 70mph now.

I hope that made sense.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 18:04 
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A danger on this issue is that a future government may raise the motorway speed limit to 80 mph in an attempt to appear motorist-friendly, while at the same time cutting limits on many other roads.

There would be no real benefit on motorways, as it would be merely legitimising the status quo, and a real disbenefit on other roads.

Also those motorways that remained at 70 mph (and it would not be difficult, for example, to see all of the M60 coming into that category) might see enforcement at lower levels than at present.

While in principle I believe the motorway speed limit should be increased, I don't really see it as a top priority, and motorways in fact are the roads on which in general I feel least concerned about unreasonable speed enforcement. There are plenty of roads that are not far off being motorways, but because they are coloured green, not red, on the map, and have houses nearby, are now Gatsoed 50s rather than 70s.

What we need is a general return to sensible principles of speed limit setting based on consistent standards and 85th percentile speeds, not a one-off, publicity-grabbing measure. Once that is done it should result in an increase in motorway speed limits anyway.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 10:38 
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Hi Paul.

Coming from a country (France) where 130km/h, ie 81mph, is the norm, setting the UK limit to 80mph would make perfect sense to me.

Now, in my country, there was recently a proposal to rise the limit to 150km/h (93 mph) on 3-lane motorways, like they did in Italy. Of course, the dominant thinking is very much oriented against speed, so this proposal did not have much chance, despite the fact that it came from someone in the parliament majority.

When this idea came, I somehow had a line of thinking close to yours: I believe that motorway limits are an aberration because the result is that otherwise competent drivers decide to stick themselves to the middle lane and keep driving at that pace, with little respect for safety distances and probably little vigilance. I always wonder what would happen of such a "pack" of cars if somebody unexpected happens ahead.

With that in mind, setting a higher speed would probably result in the same problem, but at higher speed. No speed limit at all (or a speed limit high enough that it would only concern the very fast cars) would be much better because everyone would have to adapt to the traffic and to what they see (like they do, for example, in cities) rather than blindly driving at the limit and waiting till the trip is over.

On the other hand, the fact is those accidents are rare and that motorways only represent a small part of the death toll. So, whatever we do, good or bad, I don't think there'll be much change.

Now, Italy has recently raised its speed limit, so if it was such a bad idea, we'll probably hear about it. I would really be surprised if it was.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 10:46 
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I was driving home on the A1 past the Angel of the North last night. This stretch of road is dual carriageway and has a 70 speed limit but we rarely got above 40!!! There were no accidents on this stretch at the time and the queues went from near the Durham border well past where I turned of just north of the river Tyne.

One of the major causes of this kind of tailback, is motorists who slam on their brakes (Stupid People) to slow from 70-40 to let someone out from the left hand lane into the overtaking lane. While this is very gentlemanly, the end result is every car behind you having to slam on the brakes and slow from 70-40. When this is happenening in dense traffic, you get it happening not for one car, but for one, then another, then another and so on. I have seen this behavious cause accidents!

So it would be great to have an 80mph speed limit on the roads, but would we get the benfit unless something is done about traffic flows and the state of britains motorists' driving etiquet?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 12:36 
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DevilsAdvocate wrote:
One of the major causes of this kind of tailback, is motorists who slam on their brakes (Stupid People) to slow from 70-40 to let someone out from the left hand lane into the overtaking lane.


The problem is that there are also stupid people who will use their indication that they are changing lanes not as a request but as an instruction - I'm coming out so watch it :roll:

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
So it would be great to have an 80mph speed limit on the roads, but would we get the benfit unless something is done about traffic flows and the state of britains motorists' driving etiquet?


Aha...absolutely agree with you here mate. The IAM handbook that I have cites lane discipline as one of the worst aspects of driving on British motorways; it then goes on to give advice which will inevitably be interpreted differently by different people :!:

A little bit of co-operation would go an awful long way to helping traffic flows IMHO, but of course we live in a 'me first' society don't we :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 15:00 
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what is the current IAM advice for lane discipline?

and does this lead to the most efficient flow rates?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 15:27 
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ar wrote:
what is the current IAM advice for lane discipline?

and does this lead to the most efficient flow rates?


I'm paraphrasing because I don't have it to hand but it advises that once you have passed the vehicle you were overtaking to move back to the lane on your left. It goes on to say that you shouldn't however be 'overzealous' (I think that's the word used) to the extent that you are constantly changing lanes.

It makes perfect sense, but inevitably different folks will interpret the advice differently - some will think it means that if you can see a car on the horizon in lane 1 then stay in lane 2 :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 15:58 
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Rigpig wrote:
I'm paraphrasing because I don't have it to hand but it advises that once you have passed the vehicle you were overtaking to move back to the lane on your left. It goes on to say that you shouldn't however be 'overzealous' (I think that's the word used) to the extent that you are constantly changing lanes.


so in medium to heavy congestion, most people shouldn't be changing lanes?

Rigpig wrote:
It makes perfect sense, but inevitably different folks will interpret the advice differently - some will think it means that if you can see a car on the horizon in lane 1 then stay in lane 2 :roll:


Maybe some sort of guideline should be taught to new drivers, i.e. when its worth moving back over to the left. Or would this make the situation worse - even less thinking.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 16:26 
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ar wrote:
so in medium to heavy congestion, most people shouldn't be changing lanes?


If all three lanes are choka-block and moving then I suppose the answer would be yes.

ar wrote:
Maybe some sort of guideline should be taught to new drivers, i.e. when its worth moving back over to the left. Or would this make the situation worse - even less thinking.


Yeah, personally I think so.

The handbook uses the wording I paraphrased above as the caption to a photo showing the 'typical' scenario, i.e. lanes 2 and 3 full of cars with the next vehicle in lane 1 about 200 yards ahead. The question is, why didn't the vehicles in lane 2 move into lane 1 after they passed the previous vehicle in that lane?

1. Lack of understanding of motorway lane discipline?
2. Lack of confidence - i.e. I don't like changing lane so if I stay in lane 2 I can overtake and others can overtake me?
3. They can see vehicles ahead and assume those vehicles are passing something even though they can't see it theselves?
4. They think they could go faster if the car ahead would get out of the way? The driver behind them is thinking exactly the same thing, andthe one behind him etc etc
5. They think that if they move to lane 1 someone behind will move into their space and not let them back out again so they cling onto their precious little place in the line?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 18:22 
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Rigpig wrote:
The question is, why didn't the vehicles in lane 2 move into lane 1 after they passed the previous vehicle in that lane?

1. Lack of understanding of motorway lane discipline?
2. Lack of confidence - i.e. I don't like changing lane so if I stay in lane 2 I can overtake and others can overtake me?


A reasonable number of limited HGVs will essentially make lane 1 unusable within the proviso of not being 'overzealous' on lane changes. Most people will get used to travelling in the second lane for that reason. The lack of proper understanding results in people feeling perfectly happy staying in the second lane despite a nice clear patch on the motorway.

I think a lot of our road safety and etiquette issues have their roots in poor training and education for new drivers. It is interesting to note that most of the 'middle-lane' traffic will rigourously maintain a speed close to the speed limit. Perhaps changing the speed limit upwards would produce a large number of switched off middle laners doing a speed that they are not used to.

Quote:
3. They can see vehicles ahead and assume those vehicles are passing something even though they can't see it theselves?
4. They think they could go faster if the car ahead would get out of the way? The driver behind them is thinking exactly the same thing, andthe one behind him etc etc


It is often difficult to imagine a situation from the other drivers' perspectives. I'm not sure there is an easy answer to this one. Experience could provide some benefit.



Quote:
5. They think that if they move to lane 1 someone behind will move into their space and not let them back out again so they cling onto their precious little place in the line?


In heavy traffic conditions, I agree. This shouldn't be the case in light traffic. The issue comes in the medium traffic situations. For example, if there is some local lane 3 congestion, perhaps due to HGVs overtaking. Lane 3 will typically slow, due to in my opinion drivers from the middle lane who do not overtake the second lane obstruction promptly.

It would probably only take one or two drivers in the lane 3 queue to think 'I'll sit this one out for 30 seconds or so whilst it clears' and move over to lane 2. Then the reduced traffic volume in lane 3 will help it to keep on flowing. I can't imagine this happening that often mind.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 21:06 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
* A small but possibly significant proportion of drivers would see 80mph as a target and would be less likely to slow when conditions worsened.



To me, that is an argument for removing the limits altogether. With no artificial limits people will have to set their own, and there is a good chance the less confident drivers will set a limit lower than the current 70. Others may well go with the flow but those drivers probably already do go with the flow which already puts them over 80.

If you abolish the limit you also get rid of the "it's legal so it's safe" brigade who stick to the limit come rain or shine (or snow, ice and fog).


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2004 23:26 
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ar wrote:
what is the current IAM advice for lane discipline?

and does this lead to the most efficient flow rates?


This is forgotten art - in fact it is not even taught in UK - and another reason perhaps for including drive on fast A road at least on L Test.

Part of COAST!

When you join motorway - stay in L1 to acclimatise to faster speed in any case.

Basically - you drive in LEFT HAND lane unless prevented to by lane closure or other cirumstances. After your overtake at 70 mph :wink: , (and unless you wish to pass stream of slower moving L1 traffic (by slower I mean those HGVs on limiters and other slower moving traffic - and not L1 traffic travelling at 70 mph :lol: and you blatting past at 75 mph and higher), you move back to L1 as soon as it is safe to do so (ie in that nice gap you spied which keeps your two second rule for yourself and others :wink: ). You avoid undertaking unless you are in one of those traffic queues caused by numpties braking hard when they spot the talivan and realise they were driving way too fast! :roll:

You should always look ahead - up to road horizons, scanning ahead, to rear and sides, being aware of blind spots.

Monitor opportunities to overtake - you check what is closing on vehicles in front and what is moving up behind. Match your speed of approach to blend into the traffic flow (70 mph limit :wink: :wink: ) make allowances for lane closurs, junctions etc. Watch body language of other drivers - speed, head movements vehicle movements - all provide clues as to intentions - they tend to do this before they signal!. :roll:

Avoid overtaking if you can see you will end up three abreast - all at same speed in all three lanes! :roll:

At junctions - goes without saying that people will be joining and there will always be a last minute numpty! :roll:

If possible - adjust speed to let person join, change to L2 if safe to do so and ultimately it is vehicle joining the motorway who should give way. But two wrongs never make a right - so care required by all.

Basically - it is about applying COAST, keeping your cool, being courteous and using common sense!

And it should be taught - properly! :roll:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2004 13:26 
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One of the main reasons I can see for not increasing the speed limit, is that the central reservation crash barriers (safety fences) are tested for a 1.5 tonne vehicle impacting at 15 degrees at a speed of 70mph.

Manufacturers have to ensure their products meet this standard.

Raising the limit means that they would have a very easy get-out for providing substandard materials.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2004 18:14 
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I've got another few points regarding raising the speed limit..

Plus points:-

1) It would hopefully prevent/reduce occurances of the "I'm doing 70mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade that pull out in front of you at the last minute (normally accompanied by no indication) as you attempt to overtake.

2) Hopfully reduce occurances of the "I'm doing 70mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade that arrogantly sit in lane 2 mile after mile because in their eyes there should be no-one needing to overtake, therefore no need to move back into lane 1.

3) When people see a police car on a motorway today (rare sight I know, but bear with me) many go into "angel driver" mode for the duration that they can see the police car. This normally involves slowing down rapidly to 65-70mph, causing the usual problem of the car behind braking slightly more etc. until somewhere further back someone comes to a stop. If people could happily overtake the police car at 80mph it would reduce this.

4) People convicted of speeding at the new limit are punished according to the amount their speed is over the new limit.
What I mean by this is that you are very unlikely to be stopped for doing 80mph today, and I'm sure I've read elsewhere that you're unlikely to be stopped below 90. However if you are stopped then you are still punished according to the amount of speed over 70mph i.e. if you are stopped for doing 100mph (30mph over) then you are likely to need to plead with magistrates to keep your licence. If the limit were 80mph and you were stopped for 100mph this is likely to be within the FPN threshold (normally up to 25mph over speed limit I believe).

5) May reduce the current lack of respect for speed limits in general i.e. if most people happily exceed the speed limit on the motorway today what is there to tell them that it's any less important to respect other speed limits (outside schools etc.)?

Possible minus points:-

1) The "I'm doing 70mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade become a "I'm doing 80mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade :roll: and still pull out in front of you at the last minute (normally accompanied by no indication) as you attempt to overtake.

2) The "I'm doing 70mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade become a "I'm doing 80mph so nobody should be going faster than me" brigade :roll: and still arrogantly sit in lane 2 mile after mile because in their eyes there should be no-one needing to overtake, therefore no need to move back into lane 1.

As has been mentioned by others it's difficult to see how to break the link between speed limit and target speed for some drivers without removing the speed limit completely - and I somehow can't imagine that in my lifetime..


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 13:31 
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Lane use - I teach a 10 second guideline. If you overtake and return and then stay in that lane for less than 10 seconds before moving out, you should have stayed out. And vice a verca if you go over 10 seconds without passing anything (adding a bit for following distance) you should have stayed in.


Speed limits - I reckon 90% set their limit as follows:
1 how much time they have
2 the speed of surrounding traffic
3 what feels safe (conditions, alertness etc.)
4 fuel economy
5 the risk of prosecution

If you look at the decades of success we had with NSLs many where placed on roads where it would be unsafe for 80% of traffic to drive at 60. People were quite happy setting appropriate limits then.

I'd support a speed limit of 90. Beyound that I think there are very valid environmental issues due to the excess fuel consumed. I think unrestricted in dry conditions there are plenty of bikes and cars that could drive safely beyound 100mph. However their becomes a speed difference risk for slower vehicles.

For example it is legal (but not sensible) to ride a derestricted 50cc (remember mopeds are <50cc and limited to 30mph) motorcycle on a motorway which would have a top speed of about 45-50mph. Some MOT legal cars are unsafe at 80mph.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 10:55 
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diy wrote:
Speed limits - I reckon 90% set their limit as follows:
1 how much time they have
...

I'd agree with that. In the 'new world economy' (i.e. work harder and faster for less money) people are more stressed out by time than anything else. And that accounts for a lot of trouble. Some people think the answer is to just go faster, rather than dealing with the issues.

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