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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 00:58 
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Speed is safe and Denmark has the proof

27 Feb 2014
Author: Alisdair Suttie

Any measure that sees a quantifiable reduction in road deaths and injuries is generally hailed as move in the right direction. What if that meant raising the speed limit on certain stretches of road?

In the UK, this would most likely bring out the anti-speed villagers in a pitchfork and burning torches mob ready to brand any such idea as witchcraft. The kneejerk reaction in the UK is speed is bad, speed causes death, speed is to blame for all of our road collisions and problems.

Yet the sensible heads in Denmark have not just considered this idea, they’ve put it in to practice and the results are clear.
Less temptation, fewer collisions

We’re not talking about increasing the speed limit on the motorway or dual carriageways, this is a two-year study of lifting the limits on single carriageway, undivided roads where many would have us believe we are most likely to be killed in a car.

The Danish road directorate conducted its study on two-way rural roads where the speed limit was previously 80km/h (51mph). It was increased to 90km/h (56mph) and the findings became apparent.

What the Danish road directorate realised was the traffic that had been travelling below the 80km/h limit speeded up to closer to the 90km/h posted limit. Those who previously drove at or above the 80km/h limit were less tempted to break the 90km/h speed limit and actually reduced their average speed by 1km/h.

That’s what I’d call a win-win situation, particularly when collisions on these sections of road went down. The reason for this is attributed to the faster group of drivers being less frustrated at slower drivers and making fewer overtaking manoeuvres.

The Danish road directorate conducted its study on two-way rural roads
Sceptical authorities

To begin with, the Danish police were not keen on this idea, fearing drivers would see the new faster speed limit as an excuse to travel even more quickly.

Erik Mather, a senior Danish Police Traffic officer, says: “The police are perhaps a little biased on this issue, but we have had to completely change our view now the experiment has been trialled for two years.”

There is further evidence that returning responsibility to drivers and not treating them like automatons who must blindly obey works well to reduce collisions and injuries. In European cities where all traffic furniture and signage has been removed in urban areas, drivers automatically slow down when they know pedestrians, cyclists and children may well be sharing the same space as them rather than using delineated pavements or sections of the road.

The Danish experiment with speed limits is in stark contrast to what has been happening in the UK over the past couple of decades. The attitude here is simple: if there has been a collision on a road, it must be down to excessive speed.

However, there is not an overwhelming statistical body of evidence to prove this beyond doubt. In the majority of instances, speed may play a part, but it doesn’t explain the whole reason for a collision.

As we can see from the Danish study, if you remove frustration from a driver’s immediate experience, he or she will drive more considerately. This means fewer overtakes because the flow of traffic is generally quicker and also there’s less pressure on some drivers to pass the car in front.
Time for 80mph motorways

Another key finding of the Danish study is that many collisions have their impact lessened because there is a smaller differential in speed between vehicles travelling in the same direction.

Brian Gregory, the joint chairman of the Association of British Drivers, said: “These findings vindicate what we have been saying for years, that raising unreasonably low speed limits improves road safety by reducing speed differentials and driver frustration.

“They also confirm decades of research from the USA and UK on the setting of speed limits. It is now time for the Government to push ahead with raising the motorway speed limit to 80 mph. It must also change its guidance to local authorities on setting speed limits, so that they are once again set at a level that commands the respect of drivers.

“This means reinstating the 85th percentile principle - setting limits that 85 percent of drivers would not wish to exceed. Those who have argued that lower speed limits improve safety have been proved wrong.”

The chances of the British government acknowledging this study and even thinking about acting on its findings are remote, sadly. The Department for Transport’s own circular from January 2013, Setting Local Speed Limits, says: “For typical types of road traffic collisions the risk of death for drivers and pedestrians involved reduces with reduced vehicle speeds and it is particularly important to consider those speeds where the balance tips in favour of survival.”

That is entirely the correct approach when looking at urban speed limits, where the difference between 20- and 30mph or 30- and 40mph is a life and death choice. However, as we can see from the Danish experiment, on faster stretches of road it makes more sense to let the traffic progress at a natural rate rather than trying to restrict.
UK should follow the Danish

This writer would never advocate increasing speed limits in town or anywhere we presently have a 30mph zone. Rather, I would be happy to see mandatory 20mph limits set around all schools, heavily pedestrianised areas and residential parts of towns, villages and cities.

Careful, considerate drivers will often lower their speed in such areas as a matter of course, so by enshrining this idea in law we are only formalising a common sense approach.

However, we must balance this out and apply common sense in other parts of the UK’s roads network. Where roads have had their speed limits reduced to 50mph, we should look at them and decide if a 60mph limit would not be more suitable.

When the UK government takes the same sensible, objective approach as the Danish to speed limits, we will not only have more free-flowing rural roads, but safer roads all across the country.
This finding reflects what we have said for years. Excellent to see that a long term trial has categorically proved us right.
Sadly our loss of proper road safety measures over the last 20 years will take many years to fully recover from, even once this is implemented.
:lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 18:52 
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I travelled the A442 between bridgnorth and Kidderminster this weekend. Now thi is a road I used to travel daily in the 70s and was a good safe road.

Not now.

In a short stretch of about 6-7 miles from Bridgnorth there must be at least 7 speed limit changes. The 30 limit stretches well into what used to be the 40limit .The 40 limit is only about half a mile long before it goes into a 50 limit for about half a mile, then a 40 limit then a 50 limit then a 60 limit then a 40 limit, etc.,etc.

It's a dangerous joke and the temptation to overtake the bumblers doing 40MPH on a previously 70MPH road is too much (most stick at 40 on the 50MPH road because they are too used to that slow speed or can't be bothered to speed up for just a mile or less), this has got to result in dangerous chance taking when so much traffic is dawdling at speeds which are just unsafe on this road.

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My views do not represent Safespeed but those of a driver who has driven for 39 yrs, in all conditions, at all times of the day & night on every type of road and covered well over a million miles, so knows a bit about what makes for safety on the road,what is really dangerous and needs to be observed when driving and quite frankly, the speedo is way down on my list of things to observe to negotiate Britain's roads safely, but I don't expect some fool who sits behind a desk all day to appreciate that.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:41 
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Indeed that sounds less predictable and open to confusion. Making road safety simple in many ways takes all the public with you. Make it so variable that it needs constant change for no 'reason' just adds to the mistrust of authority and rule.
Whilst good drivers will scoff and scorn at the stupidity what do less capable driver do? Make it simple, so they drive at the slowest allowable speed for the duration. That just causes frustration and anxiety to most.

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