The government will press ahead with trials of 80mph speed limits on some sections of motorways where variable speed limits are already in place.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “This is a gamble with people’s lives. There has been no research into the safety of this trial, but there is a mountain of evidence that higher speeds result in more needless and violent crashes and casualties.
“It is hard to see the logic behind this trial when the potential benefits of 80mph limits are so questionable. On our congested motorways they are unlikely to significantly shorten journey times, and could lengthen them by creating an uneven flow and increasing speed differentials between cars and speed-limited trucks. Driving at 80mph also means higher fuel consumption and increased carbon emissions.
“The government should instead look at how it can reduce costly and devastating crashes, and reduce congestion, through more variable speed limits and other measures, without negating the safety benefits by increasing the upper limit. We urge the Transport Secretary to consult road safety groups in the coming weeks to hear their views.”
Brake is calling on the government to abandon its plans for 80mph limits on motorways, including this trial, and instead set out how it will deliver benefits to drivers, the wider public and the economy by improving safety and reducing casualties on these roads.
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
Road crashes are not accidents: they are man-made, preventable, violent events that devastate lives. Brake does not use the term accidents because it undermines work to tackle needless casualties and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by road death or injury.