EFFORTS TO cut deaths on rural roads will only succeed if county councils slash speed limits by as much as 10mph, the Institute of Highways & Transportation said this week.
IHT wants counties to apply speed limits consistently because many impose different limits on similar roads.
Lower speed limits are among the key recommendations in the IHT's Rural Safety Guidelines published on Monday.
Most road fatalities are on rural roads. At the moment rural road deaths run at about 2,000 a year, accounting for 59% of all road fatalities.
The guidelines state the need to 'slow traffic to speeds more appropriate to lower design standards and to deter non- essential traffic'.
'On Class B/C unclassified roads where features such as bends and restricted width prevail, a 50mph limit would be appropriate to encourage constant, lower speeds, and even 40mph on class C and unclassified roads,' the guidelines say. At the moment the maximum speeds are 60mph for B roads and 50mph for unclassified roads.
Cutting speed limits for all rural roads is part of a policy of distinguishing between urban and rural roads, said the IHT's Barbara Sabey, chair of the steering group which included representatives from the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research, Mouchel TSC, transport research laboratory TRL and the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions.
Amid fears that the Government is not going to make such a distinction in its forthcoming speed policy review, Sabey said that the guidelines were aimed at fostering more appropriate driver behaviour.
Consistency of speed limits and signing between local authorities was vital to change driver behaviour, she added.
Other priorities to cut rural road acci-dents are:
Modifying single carriageways to minimise congestion. Flow breakdown on rural roads was said to cause a high rate of accidents at junctions when speeding vehicles plough into the back of traffic jams.
Whole route speed reduction strategies, with the emphasis on signing and road markings.
Signing and marking techniques that convey the impression that the situation is more hazardous than it actually is.
Guidelines for Rural Safety Management available from IHT, 6 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DZ.
Road victims' memorial services will take place across Europe on Sunday, including one St James' Church in London's Piccadilly at 2.30pm. For more information call Roadpeace on (020) 8838 5102.
RoSPA has road safety information on its website at www.rospa.co.uk/roadsafe.htm Vision for Road Safety beyond 2000 , available from the ICE, tel (020) 7222 7722.
TRL has published a series of documents on road safety measures.
Details available at www.trl.co.uk