Reducing the 60mph speed limits of Suffolk’s rural roads could save the lives of young drivers and motorcyclists
PUBLISHED: 00:01 15 May 2019
Speed limits on rural A roads in should be reduced from 60mph because motorists don’t feel safe driving that fast, safety campaigners have claimed.
A report by Brake, the road safety charity and Direct Line insurers found that of 1,107 drivers surveyed nationwide, six in 10 felt unsafe travelling at the default 60mph speed limit.
The findings were welcomed by Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.
He said: "Anything we can do to keep our roads safe and reduce the number of casualties has my support.
"Suffolk has many miles of 60mph rural roads and we all know how dangerous driving conditions are on some stretches.
"Young drivers and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on our county roads and I would urge them to remember speed limits are exactly that - a limit - not a target."
Of those surveyed, 82 were from the east of England and 43% of them said they felt the 60mph limit should be reduced. Just over 20% disagreed.
When asked if 60mph was a safe speed on a road where there may be cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, a total of 70.7% disagreed. Just over 14% agreed.
Yet 39% said they would feel still safe travelling at 60mph on a rural single carriageway A road, with just over 36% disagreeing.
A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary road policing unit said motorists needed to remember speed limits were not a target and motorists had to consider other factors such as road conditions, visibility and the weather when travelling on rural roads.
"The faster you are travelling, the less time you will have to react to unforeseen hazards," the spokesman said.
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"Speed limits are in place for a reason; to reduce casualties and keep the roads safe for everyone."
Speed limits are set by Suffolk County Council. The national default for single carriageway roads is 60mph, which applies to most rural roads.
A council spokesman said the latest Suffolk Road Casualty report was for 2017 and showed there were 590 incidents on rural roads with speed limits above 40mph, of which 20 were fatal and 94 serious.
This was a 13% reduction from 2012 and a 1% increase from 2015.
A spokesman said a review of speed limit policy was held in 2014 and some changes were made following guidance from the DfT.
"We are aware of the issue of rural A roads and have supported the DfT's Think campaign messaging in recent years," the spokesman added.
Brake said many rural A roads are unsuited to high speeds because they are often narrow with blind bends, brows and no pavements or cycle paths, and lack segregated areas such as pavements or bike lanes.
Overgrowing hedges and trees can obstruct visibility of the road and signs and can also present an additional danger in the event of a crash.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "Drivers have made their views clear - travelling at 60mph on rural roads doesn't feel safe to them, and the majority would support or not object to the limit being reduced.
"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."
Mr Harris said that ahead of publication of the Government's new road safety action plan, Brake was calling for a focus on speed reduction on both urban and rural roads.
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