Gloating about oil, and realisation that speed doesn’t kill

Gloating about oil, and realisation that speed doesn’t kill

I could gloat about oil’s 10% drop over the past week, but you had a bit of that yesterday. Instead, I’m going to grab another favourite of mine: speed doesn’t kill.

OK, we can joke and say that it’s the instant deceleration that kills, but after years of pushing the ‘speed kills’ mantra, some councils in the UK are taking a look at whether this is flawed logic.

When the 55mph US National Speed Limit was lifted in 1995, Montana reverted to no speed limits. During the period of NO limits, despite an increase in traffic volume of 15%, fatalities fell to an all-time low. Average speeds remained similar, and there was an improvement in lane courtesy, with use of the inside lane bringing an increase in road capacity. “The desired effect of speed limits,” wrote traffic researcher, Chad Dornsife, “is achieved by removing them”.

In 1999, speed limits and enforcement were re-introduced. In the first year, the record low of 101 fatalities with no limits rose to a new high of 143 fatalities withlimits. A 6-year downward trend went into reverse. In 2000, the Department recorded a record low in miles travelled, but a record high in fatal accidents.

So, in the UK the Home Secretary has announced the scrapping of targets to free the police from red tape so they can concentrate on their job of solving crime. It’s the slow realisation that inappropriate speed is the issue. A residential cul-de-sac may have a 50kph limit, but perhaps it’s only safe to do 30. There are always going to be valid environmental arguments for driving at a car’s most efficient speed and not caning it, but eventually we’ll all be driving eco cars like the Fisker Karma, fueled from renewable energy.

In the meantime, perhaps transport authorities could consider decluttering the highways, and using commonsense when applying speed limits.

I could gloat about oil’s 10% drop over the past week, but you had a bit of that yesterday. Instead, I’m going to grab another favourite of mine: speed doesn’t kill.

OK, we can joke and say that it’s the instant deceleration that kills, but after years of pushing the ‘speed kills’ mantra, some councils in the UK are taking a look at whether this is flawed logic.

When the 55mph US National Speed Limit was lifted in 1995, Montana reverted to no speed limits. During the period of NO limits, despite an increase in traffic volume of 15%, fatalities fell to an all-time low. Average speeds remained similar, and there was an improvement in lane courtesy, with use of the inside lane bringing an increase in road capacity. “The desired effect of speed limits,” wrote traffic researcher, Chad Dornsife, “is achieved by removing them”.

In 1999, speed limits and enforcement were re-introduced. In the first year, the record low of 101 fatalities with no limits rose to a new high of 143 fatalities withlimits. A 6-year downward trend went into reverse. In 2000, the Department recorded a record low in miles travelled, but a record high in fatal accidents.

So, in the UK the Home Secretary has announced the scrapping of targets to free the police from red tape so they can concentrate on their job of solving crime. It’s the slow realisation that inappropriate speed is the issue. A residential cul-de-sac may have a 50kph limit, but perhaps it’s only safe to do 30. There are always going to be valid environmental arguments for driving at a car’s most efficient speed and not caning it, but eventually we’ll all be driving eco cars like the Fisker Karma, fueled from renewable energy.

In the meantime, perhaps transport authorities could consider decluttering the highways, and using commonsense when applying speed limits.

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