t enough protection for drivers, says safety group
Rising risk of shunts and inadequate safeguards to stop motorists running off road, it claims
Ministers to start consultation in next few months

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:12:08, 14 May 2012 | UPDATED:12:09, 14 May 2012

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Ministers are pushing on with plans to raise motorway speed limits to 80mph despite concerns that the carriageways are not safe enough to cope with the increase.

The Government intends to consult on introducing the new limit in the next few months.

But according to a report from the Road Safety Foundation (RSF), England’s motorways do not provide enough protection to drivers and car occupants for an increase in the limit to be considered.

Life in the fast lane: The government is pressing on with plans to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph despite concerns from safety groups

‘Weaknesses’: The Road Safety Foundation has claimed that there would be an increased risk of shunt crashes and said there was not enough protection to prevent cars running off the road (file picture)

It added that there would be a rapidly-rising risk of shunt crashes from the sheer volume of traffic using the motorways.

The report also said there were widespread faults in the protection given to drivers to prevent them running off the road on motorways.

Rocketing fuel costs see drivers cut journeys while ‘vapour trailers’ risk breakdown by driving on empty tanks

The RSF also cited the problem of pedestrians on the hard shoulder, roadworks, extreme weather and spillages from vehicles.

In addition, there would be negative economic effects from a higher speed limit, including increased vehicle operating costs through higher fuel consumption; increased crashes and crash severity, resulting in raised crash costs;and the rising costs caused by delays from crashes.

Calling for changeThe 80mph plans were first put forward in autumn last year by former Transport Secretary Philip Hammond (above)

The foundation said it recognised the argument that respect for the 70mph limit was poor and it did not dismiss proposals to raise the limit.

But the report concluded: ‘Drivers who want to are already travelling at 80mph when they can. Economic benefits only arise if “80 means 90” and opinion surveys show no public support for that.

‘However, large economic benefits arise from fixing the motorways systematically rather than raising the speed limit.’

RSF director Joanne Marden said: ‘Our cars provide 4-star or 5-star crash protection but too many of our motorways rate only 3-star, with major weakness in run-off protection.’

‘No final decisions’: Roads Minister Mike Penning (above) says consultation will start in the next few months

Proposals to bring in 80mph limits were first put forward in autumn 2011 by the then Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. If a higher limit is introduced, there would still be some sections of motorway where the limit would stay at 70mph.

Roads minister Mike Penning said trials were currently being carried out at test sites where variable speed limits were in place.

He said: ‘This work is on-going and no final decisions have yet been taken about which stretches of motorway would be included in any proposed trial.

‘We plan to bring forward detailed proposals and start consultation during the next few months.’

Two-thirds of AA members support an increase in the limit to 80mph.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘Driving at 80mph in a modern car in good weather at a safe distance from the car in front on a well-engineered motorway is perfectly safe.

‘Driving at 50mph tailgating the car in front is not. Driving at 75mph on a sub-standard stretch of motorway without a decent central reservation or run-off areas may not be safe.’

He added that 80mph was ‘already accepted by most as the de facto limit so it is better to legalise this limit on the safest stretches of motorway and enforce it’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2144132/Motorways-80mph-speed-limit-despite-claims-safe-cope.html#ixzz28AEHTgdY
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