People have been talking recently about increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph. I’d like to see this happen, even if just given a trial on one or two roads.
At the moment when a motorway has reasonably free running traffic people tend to drive around 80 mph naturally. It’s not as if it is just one or two drivers, but a significant percentage (who are of course distracted from paying proper attention to what is in front of them by worrying about being nicked). So all this would do would bring the law into line with the reality of what’s actually happening on the roads. The real problem is with inappropriate speed, not high speed, and that’s best sorted out by proper education and getting people to drive at the speed they are comfortable with.
Britain’s speed limit is lower than many other countries in Europe while some roads in Germany have no restriction on them at all (though there is a recommended 130 Km/h (81 mph) limit), yet even on the unrestricted autobahns you very rarely hear of any accidents. Remove the distraction of worrying about being caught may even reduce the number of motorway incidents.
However what I’d really like to see is more ‘active’ speed limit controls, especially on urban motorways. So often the limits on these roads are set to cater for the rush hour traffic situation which is totally different from the rest of the day, let alone week-end. Driving down an almost empty, 50 mph limited motorway on a Sunday morning just generates contempt and disrespect for speed limits, and this contempt is then carried across to other situations. Adjust the limit as the situation changes (morning, afternoon, night; weekday, weekend) and then however vigourously enforce the limits. The technology is there to give variable limits, urban motorways are quite heavily monitored with video cameras feeding back to control centres, people are quite used to seeing electronic signs around the place, so there’s no technical reason why this could not happen, just a matter of politicians making decisions!