A recent motorway safety report produced by the Road Safety Foundation supports the view that England’s motorways are unfit for an 80mph speed limit.
England’s motorway network is deemed to be unsafe for the proposed speed limit due to factors such as poorly-maintained and inadequate roadside protection as well as the increased risk the extra speed will bring of shunt crashes, particularly given the year-on-year increases in British motorway traffic.
One reason for the government proposal to adjust the speed limit was the anticipated economic benefits of shorter journey times for many British companies. Phillip Hammond, the once Secretary for Transport who announced the plan, said: “We need to make sure the motorway speed limit reflects the reality of modern vehicles and driving conditions. Not those of 50 years ago... we must consider the huge economic benefits that can be created by shortening journey times.”
The Road Safety Foundation’s argument is based on the fact that the safety of our motorways is not currently at a high enough standard to provide the protection drivers need should an accident occur at the proposed speed limit.
One of their primary concerns is the lack of electronic warning signs on many motorways which give controllers the ability to manage heavy traffic or to warn drivers if they are approaching the scene of an accident. The research revealed that shunt accidents on busy motorway sections can increase exponentially without the presence of electronic hazard warning signs. Currently only a few motorways such as the M25 and M42 have the electronic controls in place.
The research showed that the most common causes of serious accidents on our motorways come as a result of ‘unusual consequences’, including: pedestrians on the hard shoulder; road works; freak weather conditions; split loads and rear-end shunts when free-moving traffic breaks down.
When such accidents occur even the slightest flaw in motorway safety can greatly increase the risk of serious injury or death. Director of the Road Safety Foundation, Dr Joanne Marden, said: “Even though they may seem minor, the rate of exposure to any risk is so intense that even minor flaws in motorway layout or safety provision are likely to have serious consequences sooner rather than later.”
Many van insurance customers will be keen to follow this story as it progresses. We will endeavour to keep you updated with any developments as and when they occur.
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