10 July 2009

Best ever road deaths figure, but rural speed limits to be cut

In April, I blogged about the UK Government's initiative to cut speed limits in order to reduce the number of road deaths. My objections were:
  • Restriction of mobility when the UK already has some of the safest roads in the world

  • The method of enforcement (24x7 cameras) and civil liberties impact - everyone's movements could be logged and traced

  • The cost of installation and ongoing enforcement, including the possibility of another failed Government IT project

  • These proposals haven't gone away - they're out to consultation. The open consultation finishes on Tuesday 14th July, so if you have an opinion, you still have a few days to respond.

    The Times reported on 25th June that Deaths on UK roads fall to record low.

    Lord Adonis, the Transport Minister, says that "Britain now jointly has the safest roads of any major nation in the world".

    I agree that every road death is unnecessary, but I disagree with the speed limit proposals. These will have a huge set-up and operating cost, and will restrict mobility outside built-up areas by increasing journey times at all times of day and night.

    Some better approaches would be

  • Harsh penalties for causing death and serious injury; killing someone with a car is manslaughter or murder, and should be treated that way

  • Better road education: males under the age of 20 seem to be particularly likely to kill themselves, their friends, and innocent third parties

  • Restrictions on new drivers during the first few months after passing the test; curfews and rules about number of passengers, P plates (showing Passed - but recently)

  • Invest in better road layouts where these are known to be unsafe

  • Enforce speed limits in known black spots; this should be far cheaper than country-wide speed restrictions
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