UK's New Speed Limit: Down to 50MPH

The UK Government is full of surprises. It seems to be the year of changes from the Department for Transport (DfT) as the newest part of its ten-year road safety plan comes in with a significant reduction of the speed limit on country roads from 60 mph to 50 mph. An exception will only be made only on road sections where the local councils are able to provide other strong schemes for safety preservation and so to maintain the higher limit.

The decision is supported by the current number of collisions leading to death or serious injury and aims to cut it by a third. The 50mph limit would be imposed "where risks are relatively high and there is evidence that a lower limit would significantly reduce casualties," Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick told The Daily Mail.

Here's an excerpt from the "A Safer Way" consultation documents found on the DfT website, "On the whole, the British road network is relatively safe by international standards. Nevertheless, there are considerable variations of the levels of safety on different parts of the network. Of particular concern are rural roads: over 60 per cent of all deaths occur on rural roads, but they account for just over 40 per cent of traffic."

"Many of these roads are single carriageways where the national speed limit applies (60 mph). We know that speed is a factor in many of the fatalities, but compliance with the speed limit on these roads is good. The high casualty figures suggest therefore that speed limits are not at the appropriate level on some of these roads," according to the Full Road Strategy Post 2010 consultation document.

Research reports have showed a large number of pedestrian casualties as well which gave DfT enough reason to implement low speed zones in built-up areas. Soon, residential areas will have a 20mph speed limit in order to increase safety around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds and other areas with a high traffic of pedestrians and cyclists.

"Not only do these zones make our streets safer, but they also have potential to reduce pollution and improve public health by encouraging walking and cycling. The limited evidence gathered to date suggests that people walk and cycle more in areas subject to 20 mph zones," is also mentioned in the aforementioned official document.
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