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World having sudden and alarming attack of sensible? Oct. 17th, 2002 09:20 pm
Shock cut in speed limits

Speed limits across Britain are to be slashed in a bid to reduce the number of road deaths and injuries.

Ministers plan to cut maximum limits in residential areas from 30mph to 20mph. On other roads, limits could go from 60mph to as low as 40mph, or from 40mph to 30mph.


From: mhw
Date: October 17th, 2002 - 01:26 pm (Link)
Well, I hope it does apply in other places than London, too.

In built up areas like near schools sure..

From: kingginger
Date: October 17th, 2002 - 02:49 pm (Link)
... but other than that ...



Near schools are fine, but the speed limit system in this country is totally cocked up...

If they do that then they ought to increase the speed limit on the motorway!

Re: In built up areas like near schools sure..

From: wechsler
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 12:01 am (Link)
Well with that sort of reasoned scientific argument behind you, how could anyone disagree?

Near schools are fine, but the speed limit system in this country is totally cocked up...
Shock news: pedestrians, children, other motorists, parked cars, blind corners, cyclists, congestion, residential areas, mud, etc, etc, etc, aren't just found near schools.

If they do that then they ought to increase the speed limit on the motorway!
Your logical jump here eludes me. Can I assume that you want some sort of trade-off for the consideration and safety of lower urban & rural limits in the form of being able to get your speed-fix elsewhere?

Try a racetrack.
From: nisaba
Date: October 17th, 2002 - 03:33 pm (Link)
Hrm, do you really think it'll help?

The UK is odd compared to Australia in this respect. Speed limits are more or less the same... but so many more people speed here. The first time I drove on a motorway, I had no idea what the speed limit was (wtf is with the national road limit sign? How was I supposed to know what that meant? Why not a big huge number saying '70'?) so I jus kept up with the traffic. Next thing you know I'm doing 90 and still being overtaken by little old ladies in 50 year old minis.

In Australia most people will do 120kph (limit is 110), roughly 75 mph on a freeway. In the UK most people do 145kph (90 miles) - that seems insane to me. Only a maniac would drive at 140+kph at home.

I wonder actually (drunkenly, maybe I should've mentioned this earlier), if the lack of big hge fuckoff noticeable signs reminding you of the limit contributes to the excessive speeding in this country or not. I've never once seen a speed limit sign here that actually uses numbers. It's easy to forget/ignore what those symbols are suppsed to mean when your mind is thinking of wherever you're going, but there's no escaping what a big huge sign with a big huge number on it, and a big huge number painted on the road means.

And without those big huge numbers, how will people know (and keep being reminded) that the speed limit in their residential area has been reduced?

I can just see the new laws having no practical impact at all. Which is a shame, really.
From: wechsler
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 01:43 am (Link)
I think it would help significantly *if properly enforced*. There's an incredible culture of "hell, it probably won't kill *me*" which has arisen from a cycle of law-breaking motorists and disinterested authorities. The attitude to speeding is *starting* to go the same way as that about drink-driving, but it'll take time.

The lack of speed limit signs is something I've remarked on in Cambridge in the past (but then Cambridge roads are always 'different'). I've not noticed it anywhere else though. As for motorways, the limits *do* tend to be posted quite emphatically at ports, but not, it seems airports. And of course, if you've passed your driving test in the UK, you have to know the standard limits.

Personally, I'd say that it's a good idea for all road users to keep up with the law & highway code, but many won't bother.

That of course leaves the gap of anyone who's passed their test overseas and come in via an airport. I suppose any hire agency should tell you the limits, but a car salesman is unlikely to think of it. In that case all you can do is hunt out a copy of the highway code. Or ask, I suppose.

Interesting that more people stick close to the limits in Australia... after all, if everything's more spaced out (this may be a cliche) you'd think speeding would happen more often there. The UK on the other hand is one of the most densely packed countries in europe, so journeys are generally to short to save much time...

Or maybe Aussies are just used to long journeys and thus more patient ;)

(excuse my rambling, I do this when I'm ill)
From: nisaba
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 03:41 am (Link)
It is wierd... I've driven thousands of miles in Australia (and yes, everything is more spaced out), lots of long distances, and I've done a fair amount of driving here (up and down to whitby, down to cornwall and london) and speeding simply isn't as prevalant at home. You always get your idiots, of course, but still...

You're right about enforcement... in Australia there are a lot more police cars actually on the highways - well, actually, I don't know, but the perception is that there are. Sometimes you get undercover cars cruising the freeways as well. So the fear of being caught doesn't come from cameras, but from actual cops possibly appearing on the road at any moment. Unpredictable. Basic behavioural psychology, actually. Unpredictable cop cars trolling the roads would be a far better deterrant than speed cameras, whose locations are often known and there's those white lines warning you anyway.

I didn't ask about the national speed limit signs when I first got a hire car, because I expected big numbers just like on the roads at home. I also didn't get in a car in the UK for the first time at the airport... it was in Carlisle, from memory.

But my badly expressed point with the whole number issue is that, it's more of a subliminal thing. Having the same symbols that are on our dashboards shoved in our faces on the road might have more of an effect - our brains love pattern-matching. It would forcibly make people more conscious of what they should be doing, and might guilt people into driving better. Lowering the speed limits, without the accompanying signage (not the same symbols now meaning something different, but numbers) simply might not have much affect.

Of course plenty of people will still ignore the limit, but those people would ignore the limit no matter what you did, unless they had a cop car trailing them every time they got behind the wheel.

(and the rambling is excused, if you'll excuse mine, which I do when drunk, ill, or for no reason whatsoever :) )
From: booklectic
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 12:23 am (Link)
As far as London goes, given that cars actually move at an average of 3mph or so, I can't see it'll make much difference. It takes so long to drive anywhere that people will tend to go as fast as they can, when not stuck in traffic, to make up the time. And adherence to the highway code is not a big feature of London driving anyway...
From: ciphergoth
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 01:40 am (Link)
Speed limits are easier to enforce than other regulations - those cameras seem to do the trick...
From: wechsler
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 01:49 am (Link)
The problem with the cameras is that they're increasingly designed not to catch anyone. In many cases they're now far more visible than the speed limits, and the confidence that "if you can't see a speed camera, it's not there" can do nothing to reduce limits elsewhere.

Plus, of course, according to the new guidelines, 3 people have to die before a new camera can be placed.
From: adjectivemarcus
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 05:28 am (Link)
Plus, of course, according to the new guidelines, 3 people have to die before a new camera can be placed.

*does sums* Um, how many does that work out as in the Car-Pool lane?
From: zotz
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 05:29 am (Link)
There was that fuss about having them conspicuous - which is a case of, as you say, letting the lawbreakers set the agenda. There's a proportion of drivers who don't believe in sticking to limits and will only slow down if there's a chance of getting caught. Inconspicuous cameras are necessary for these cases.

There was a paper I read a few months ago about the four main types of speeding/non-speeding behaviour (of which that is one). I could try to dig out a URL if anyone's interested.
From: feanelwa
Date: October 19th, 2002 - 08:25 am (Link)
But then you get pushed off the road by people who're looking into the trees for speed cameras and not looking at where they're going.
From: zotz
Date: October 19th, 2002 - 09:59 am (Link)
Having most drivers paying any attention to what's going on around them aould be a major improvement.


From: thekumquat
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 01:51 am (Link)
Would on the whole agree, but would be interested to se what proposals for dual carriageways and motorways are. I believe studies suggest a slightly higher motorway limit (eg 80mph) would mean more people driving around that limit than at present where people think "this speed limit is out of touch".

And no, it's not that people don't know what the limits are!

I'd like dot-matrix road signs to become cheap enough so that variable speed limits can be instituted on all fast roads - it's one thing doing 100mph on a straight bit of good tarmac in fine daylight, and quite another to be doing 50 on the same road when it's foggy, twilight and you can't see a thing. Or on an Italian A-road equivalent when the road is full of potholes and complete nutters...

Re: hmmm...

From: wechsler
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 02:10 am (Link)
Letting the law-breakers set the law doesn't appeal to me - even if we could assume that people would in fact do as they say - and the evidence is against it.

It would be nice to have some solid data on just how safe the motorways would be if people obeyed the 70 limit, before contemplating an increase.

And finally, the quesitons of dual carriageways and motorways can't be considered as seperate from urban limits - various evidence (most recently from Israel's increae in motorway limits) shows that higher motorway speeds lead to higher urban speeds.

Re: hmmm...

From: zotz
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 05:25 am (Link)
This is anecdotal, obviously, but I've certainly found myself ten mph past the limit after coming into town off the motorway, simply because I've spent three or four hours at high speed and I'm used to it. If theyve found this to be common in Israel . . . I'm not in the least surprised.

Re: hmmm...

From: giolla
Date: October 18th, 2002 - 05:10 am (Link)
Would on the whole agree, but would be interested to se what proposals for dual carriageways and motorways are.

I hope that the limits for dual carriage ways would also go down in line with everything else. As dual carriage ways are also usable by horse, cyclists pedestrians etc. Apart from by special order the only roads on which the above groups don't have a right to pass and repass are motorways.

Cycling on a dual carriageway is an interesting enough thing to do at present, let alone with higher speed limits. Mind you there a few country lanes, not big enough to have a central white line, around here which are at the national speed limit. Which is just insane, yes some motorists do try to drive down them at that speed.
From: feanelwa
Date: October 19th, 2002 - 08:29 am (Link)
~crosses fingers~ please Tennis Court Road...every time i've been down there since i got back i've had the front corner of some big tank Volvo or Transit van travelling at 40 mph 2 inches from my knee & that's *after* i've emergency pulled over from 2-feet-from-wall to 2-mm-from-wall...grr...