Demands to rethink ‘unsafe’ rural speed limits

Demands to rethink ‘unsafe’ rural speed limits
Demands to rethink ‘unsafe’ rural speed limits

Safety campaigners are calling for a review of speed limits on rural roads after a report found most drivers don’t feel safe travelling at the 60mph speed limit.

The study by the charity Brake and insurer Direct Line found that 60 per cent of drivers feel unsafe travelling at the default limit on single-carriageway rural roads, compared with 90 per cent who are happy to travel at the posted limit on other types of road.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 drivers, only 23 per cent think that the current 60mph limit is suitable for rural roads and half support lowering it. Only 19 per cent would actively object to the limit being lowered.

Daily casualties

Now, the road safety charity, is calling for a review of the default limit to reflect drivers’ fears.

Brake argues that many rural roads are too narrow and poorly sighted for a 60mph limit to be safe. (Picture: Shutterstock)

On average, 17 people are seriously injured or killed on rural roads every day, with almost 40 per cent of road deaths occurring on roads classified as rural single-carriageway.

Brake, which wants rural road lessons to become compulsory for learners, argues that a 60mph limit isn’t suitable on such roads due to their narrowness, poor visibility and a lack of segregated space for pedestrians, cyclists and horses.

The national 60mph speed limit is set by the Government but councils have the power to reduce local speed limits if “local needs and conditions” suggest a lower one is necessary.

Read more: Speed limiters will be fitted on all new cars sold in the UK by 2022

False impression

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “The current default limit gives a false impression that 60mph is a safe speed and this is putting everyone who uses our rural roads at risk. With 17 people killed or seriously injured on these roads every day, the Government must review the default speed limit with a view to its reduction.

“Looking ahead to the publication of the Government’s new road safety action plan, we urge a focus on speed reduction, both in our towns and cities but also on the country’s many winding and narrow single-carriageway rural roads that are often overlooked but where so many of our road deaths and serious injuries occur. Simply put, slowing down vehicles save lives.”

There are 17 serious or fatal accidents on rural roads every day. (Picture: Shutterstock)

According to the latest government data, exceeding the speed limit was a contributing factor in five per cent of accidents in 2017 while travelling too fast for the conditions was a factor in a further seven per cent of reported incidents.

Steve Barrett head of Direct Line Car Insurance, added: “Speed and rural roads can be a deadly combination. However, a speed limit is not a target that must be attained and people should drive to the conditions of the road. Rural roads have many challenges for all those that use them and speed can exacerbate this, in both stopping distances and reaction times.”

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