A few years ago, the then highway authority Avon County Council opened a dual carriageway linking Westonsuper-Mare to the M5. The road is straight and flat and lends itself to driving safely at more than 60mph. Yet the road is subject to a 50mph speed limit. It is therefore no surprise that the only place where drivers respect that limit is in the vicinity of the two speed cameras.
The successor highway authority, north Somerset, has pursued this theme of introducing inappropriate speed limits with gusto, placing 50mph (and less) limits on a number of rural single carriageways in places where there is no special need to apply a limit less than the national standard.
I have tended to reduce my speed when a scheme is first introduced, because I assume there will be an accompanying increase in the enforcement regime. I then slip back to driving at the speed I judge to be safe for that particular location and prevailing conditions.
In light of these experiences, I suspect that drivers in north Somerset are less likely to adhere to speed limits. Hence, where a speed limit is reduced for reasons of genuine road safety need, its impact is undermined.
I support the Government's view that responsibility for reducing speed limits should move to local authorities.
My plea to their road safety engineers is to use this new power sparingly.
Reduced speed limits should only be introduced where there is a real safety reason. This way drivers will be more inclined to slow down in the locations where actual road safety benefits can be achieved.
Roger Key (M), firstname.lastname@example.org