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The need for speed?

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It has been leaked today that the maximum speed limit on motorways is likely to increase in 2013, to 80mph, following a consultation.

The Government’s reasoning behind this is that the number of drivers breaking the law is undermining the principle of policing by consent. The decision has however provoked a mixed response, with road safety organisations, such as Brake, who are very strongly opposed to such increases, commenting that crashes on motorways are more likely to lead to deaths.

There were in fact 132 deaths on motorways in 2009 at a time when the total number of road deaths was 2,222, the lowest since records began. Is this down to better road conditions, improved driving, safer, modern cars, or a combination of all these things?

What we do know is that people would like to drive faster, as an AA/Populus poll in March found that 63% of people felt that the motorway speed limit should be increased, and a quote by Edmund King, the president of the AA, makes absolute sense, when he says: “Eighty miles per hour in a modern car in good weather at a safe distance from the car in front is perfectly safe. Driving at 50mph tailgating the car in front is not.”

But it’s not just the impact on safety that needs to be considered, we are at a time when North Sea oil production is reducing and this decision will lead to more fuel consumption and carbon emissions, when we should be looking, and indeed committing, to cutting both.

Only time will tell whether the decision to increase the speed limit by 10 miles an hour has the positive outcome the Government is hoping for.

By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney