Sunday, 3 October 2010

DfT Finds No Need for Speed Limits*

The Englishman links to an article from The Telegraph about a report from Atkins written for the Department for Transport (got that?). The report concerns a scheme implemented in Portsmouth to reduce the speed limit to 20mph in residential steets, rather than 30mph. The Englishman is concerned with the results that indicate that the change had limit impact, other than costing £500,000.

What struck me from the Telegraph article, though, was this:
"Motorists' average speeds reduced by 1.3mph, from 19.8mph to 18.5mph, as a result of the scheme, according to the report, which tested speeds at 223 locations across the city." 
So the report found that people ignored the speed limit when it was 30mph and just drove at a speed that was safe and sensible. Basically, it found that we don't really need speed limits.

And logically why would we? The only real crime you can commit when driving is causing an accident. To prevent that we have laws about dangerous driving and driving without due care and attention. Why would we need an arbitrary law about how fast you can go?

Isn't it obvious that different roads and different conditions require different speeds? As this report shows, most people realise this and drive appropriately. Those who don't can be prosecuted anyway under dangerous driving laws even if they are below the speed limit.

Is it going too far to suggest that the only reason for speed limits is to make it easier for the police and courts to convict people without having to worry about considering the actual circumstances of the case? Are speed limits a bad law?

*The post title may not accurately reflect the intention of the report's authors

1 comment:

  1. Welcome - another hand to the pump and all that. Excellent posts.