By Tim Barnes-Clay, Only Motors Car Reviews & Features Editor
Motorway Madness: How many of us in Britain stick rigidly to the maximum motorway speed of 70 miles an hour? I mean, come on, 70? The limit was introduced in 1965 when that was fast for the average jalopy.
That’s why I think the threshold should be raised to at least 80 miles per hour. But the do-gooders reckon there’ll be road safety implications, including drivers having less time to react at higher speeds. In my opinion, that’s madness. Most of us have been driving at nearer 80 than 70 for years anyway.
In 1965 – nearly half a century ago – cars just weren’t as safe as today’s vehicles. Think about it: the technical leaps since then have been immense; the Government didn’t even require seatbelts to be fitted to new cars until 1967. Then look at all the crash test research; the improvements to braking and steering systems, not to mention the mass introduction of airbags in the 1990s and the electronic driver aids fitted to even the smallest of cars these days. The fact is the modern motor is almost certainly 100 per cent safer than any car made in 1965 and far more qualified to handle 70 miles per hour.
All right, the roads are busier, but what do you expect? The population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was only about 53 million in 1965 compared with nearly 62 million people today. Indeed, motorways are amongst the safest roads in the country and it’s well recognised that the UK has the safest stretches of road in Europe.
I think it’s about time the government stopped pinching millions of pounds from the public purse to splash cash on speed cameras which enforce unduly low speed limits.
Listen, I’m not saying that road safety in the UK can’t be improved, but the way to accomplish that is obviously to congratulate motorists for being the safest in Europe. Punishing drivers with an unremitting succession of speeding fines is certainly no pat on the back.
Hiking the motorway speed limit may, at the very least, go some way towards recognising that British drivers need to be cut some serious slack.