7 in 10 drivers want lower motorway speed limits in bad weather Bedford News

72% of drivers said they would support a lower limit in wet conditions

Nearly three quarters of motorists would be in favor of introducing a variable speed limit on highways depending on weather conditions.

In a survey conducted by the RAC, 72% of drivers said they would like to see the 70 mph limit reduced in wet weather, with improved road safety and better driving habits among the perceived benefits.

France is currently the only country in Europe where speed limits on the motorway vary depending on the weather. In the event of rain, the limit drops from 130 km / h (approx. 80 mph) to 110 km / h (approx. 68 mph).

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Improving visibility by reducing spray was one of the main reasons given to support a lower limit

According to the RAC’s findings, a third of UK drivers would like to see our limit reduced to 60mph in wet conditions, while 17% think it should be as low as 50mph.

However, a fifth (21%) of drivers disagreed with changing the current limits. Half of them argued that drivers were already adjusting their speed to weather conditions, so legislation was not needed, while 60 percent were also concerned about defining the conditions under which a lower limit should apply.

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Stopping distances in the wet are about double that in dry conditions, which means it will take the average car 630 meters – the equivalent of 48 car lengths – to stop at 70 mph.

Official data shows that wet roads and drivers traveling too fast for the conditions were responsible for 259 and 242 highway collisions, respectively, in 2018 – the ninth and tenth most common contributing factors in a total of 4,029 crashes.

Among those who supported a change in the current law, the potential to slow traffic and possibly save lives were cited as the most common reasons in favor, followed by the positive effect on reducing spray.

RAC data analytics spokesman Rod Dennis said a change deserved consideration, but warned it might not be straightforward.

He said: ‘Statistically the UK has some of the safest highways in Europe, but it is also true that there has been no reduction in the number of casualties of all severities on these roads since. 2012, so maybe there is an argument to look at different measures to help reduce the number of victims.

“While most drivers already adjust their speed when the weather gets bad, the numbers show that ‘driving too fast for the conditions’ and ‘slippery roads’ are still among the top 10 causes of highway crashes and contribute to a significant number of serious injuries and even deaths each year.

“The overall success of any program would of course depend on a sufficient number of motorists reducing their speed, but even a single proportion reducing their speed in wet conditions would have the potential to improve the safety of UK motorways.”

Mr Dennis added that while testing such a change could be done easily with the variable speed limitation systems in place on smart highways, a permanent change would be more complicated.

He said: “There would also be a number of practical hurdles to overcome, such as deciding what that lower limit would be, updating the traffic laws and installing road signs to inform drivers of the new limits.”

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This notice was published: 2021-07-30 23:01:00

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