Can we risk it?

The need for speed seems to be an essential urge for motorists in this modern day and age, and with improved breaking systems and an awareness of the risks, isn’t it simple? Put up the speed limit and everyone’s happy. The government are in the process of increasing the speed limit from an out-dated 70mph (introduced permanently in 1967) to 80mph, but is it as safe as we think? Pile-ups throughout the country suggest the motorways are far from safe.  With a lorry crashing on the M56 and more importantly 7 people dead on the M5 (4th November), we have to ask ourselves is a new speed limit necessary?

Faster speeds cause greater accidents! I ask what is wrong with the current system we have. Isn’t it just simple maths? A car driving at 70mph has a far better chance of stopping sooner than that of a car travelling at 80mph. With 24 metres extra total stopping distance, we could prevent pile ups on motorways on a far more regular basis. The point that the government and the transport minister must accept, however, is that speed limits are rarely enforced – particularly on motorways. Hopefully with the news of horrendous crashes such as that on the M5 the public will think better of speeding, but can the government prevent collisions more directly?

Being a driver myself, I am often trawling up and down the motorways of Britain, in particular the M1 only to find that there are rarely, if at all, any cameras! With the rare appearance of traffic officers and unmarked police cars, are our motorways unregulated? I am not condoning speeding on the motorways (of course), but unless you are going over 90mph you are unlikely to get a speeding ticket.

Is it an issue? 

Of course we must look at the statistics. Road deaths have continued to decrease in the last seven years, with deaths dropping from 3,508 in 2003 to 1,857 in 2010 (Department for Transport Statistics), almost a 53% drop. This alongside a very small percentage of deaths actually being on the motorway seems to justify an increase in speed limit. It is clearly the reason the government have called for an increase in the speed limit

However, can we ignore the families of those who died on the M5? Reports from the police at the scene really paint a picture of destruction, “one massive fireball”  “the worst road traffic collision anyone can remember” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news). Are these the scenes we want to see on our morning paper? Witnesses (present at the scene) were in utter dismay at the scene and the images of the M5 crash will stay with them for a life time. So what is wrong with our current system? Isn’t the decrease in deaths a good thing? For one driver, it is crystal clear that the government should not increase the speed limit and stick with the system that has proved the UK to have some of the safest drivers in Europe.