For drivers continuing to struggle with the winter conditions the speed limit of the road they are trying to travel on will be of little importance – many will be battling to move at all in the snow.
But on Friday the Department for Transport chose to publish new guidance for local authorities on the setting of speed limits. As it stands there are only three national limits:
- 30 mph speed limit on roads with street lighting (sometimes referred to as Restricted Roads)
- 60 mph on single carriageway roads
- 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
But the DfT recognises that these might not be appropriate for all roads of these tpes and they allow leeway for councils to set alternative limits based on local circumstances.
Particularly the Department wants councils to:
“… consider the introduction of more 20 mph limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists, using the criteria in Section 6.”
It also highlights the dangers of rural roads:
“In 2011, 66% of road deaths in Britain occurred on rural roads, and 51% of road deaths occurred on single rural carriageway roads subject to the National Speed Limit of 60 mph limit.”
While the document says that changing speed limits to tackle this problem is only one part of the solution, Table 2 explains where the Department envisages limits below the national standard, for example:
“50 mph should be considered for lower quality A and B roads that may have a relatively high number of bends, junctions or accesses. Can also be considered where mean speeds are below 50 mph, so lower limit does not interfere with traffic flow.”
It also has views on how these limits might be enforced on rural roads:
“While routine enforcement should normally only be considered after other speed management measures have been considered, there may be occasions where the use of average speed cameras may offer a solution through calming traffic speed over a stretch of road. The Department has received a small sample of evaluation data of average speed cameras at non-roadworks sites from some local partnerships, and this data suggests a reduction in the percentage of motorists exceeding the speed limit from 55% before installation of cameras, to 18% afterwards, and an average reduction of killed and seriously injured casualties (KSI) per km of around 69%, and of personal injury collisions (PIC) of around 38%, (not adjusted for national trends and regression to mean effect).”
A lot of ‘mays’ in this paragraph but the door is clearly being left open for councils to roll out more and more of these cameras, assuming of course they have the money.