UK Considering Raising Speed Limit to 130 kph

It annoys the hell out of me the way “safety advocates” only look at speed limits from the one narrow perspective. I am sure that if we listened to these people, and let them have their way in full, we would all be traveling at 5 kilometres per hour and they would still be moaning. They just will not consider the economic cost of slower transport speeds. Yes yes, I hear them now, whining about how lives are more important than money, in the same way they always raise such strawmen. In fact, lower transport speeds give us lower standards of living which in turn makes all the things that save and extend our lives more unaffordable.

The Transport Secretary in the UK has suggested that speed limits on the motorway could be increased to 80mph (roughly 130 kph) in a bid to increase productivity. Vanishing cash reserves in the UK have made it more important to make every pound and therefore every mile per hour count.

Mr Hammond said that safety might no longer be the sole consideration in judging how fast cars can go and that gains to the economy from shorter journey times should also be taken into account. Britain’s maximum speed limit has been 70mph since 1965 and is lower than most in continental Europe.

Mr Hammond said: “We need to do this on a pretty rigorous cost-benefit basis. At the moment there are a clear set of criteria for making these decisions. Perhaps we ought to ask if we are using the right set of criteria.”

There were 132 deaths on British motorways in 2009, the last year for which full figures are available. In France and Italy the maximum speed limit is 81mph. In Ireland, Spain and Portugal it is 75mph.

Sure makes NZ’s obsession with lower and lower speed limits look lame.


6 thoughts on “UK Considering Raising Speed Limit to 130 kph

  1. Travelling in a vehicle at 28 metres/s (i.e. a 100 km/hr) is inherently dangerous, people will die and you cannot stop it… Between, shatterproof glass, safety belts, airbags, anti-protrusion walls, ABS barakes, etc, etc we have made cars very safe machines… And the statistics show it, in the US there are 1.5 death for every 100,000,000,000 metres travelled – that is staggeringly safe, imagine how many people die walking 100 billion metres… Compare this to the rate of road deaths a century ago…

    Less people die on NZ roads than do by medical misadventure, respitory illness from pollution, suicide and of course liver and lung damage from drinking and smoking…

    My personal opinion is speed limits should be set by the agreement of the owner of roads and their users…


  2. I seem to recall that when the New Zealand open road speed limit was increased from 80 to 100 kph there were all sorts of statements about, especially by the then MOT (if memory serves), that the road toll would go through the roof. Of course no such thing happened; I think it even dropped slightly. These so called experts had to bite their tongues for several years, until the public memory had faded, before they could restart their “Speed Kills” propaganda.

    With calls here (in NZ) by some for the 100 kph open road speed limit to be reduced, I can’t see us being prepared to consider increasing it to even 120 kph, let alone 130 kph. Economy be damned.


  3. “Economy be damned.”

    Kris, isn’t that the catch-cry of pretty much every policy-maker, politician at every level and eco-mentalist from one end of New Zealand to the other? If it is, it certainly explains a few things!


  4. Most of NZ roads are simply not suited for that kind of speeds, with the exception of a few motorways. I’d agree that on those motorways the speed can be upped, but on most open roads we’d have idiots flying out of every corner and into residences that typically are located too close to the road anyway. (Or the road too close to the houses, depending on what way you look at it.) Until some serious infrastructure is constructed we’ll have to stick to crawling. Given the current population and its distribution, that ain’t going to happen this century.


  5. Bez, the article is about motorways. I should think all New Zealand motorways are built to a standard that can accommodate 120+ km/h. Additionally, I would have thought most (or all) of our “open” roads could accommodate 120 km/h, or altered to do so.


  6. The UK government is just recognising what people do anyway.
    80mph is a nice cruising speed for those in large cars.
    Trouble is, at nearly $3 a litre it’s a bit pricey.


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