Are Rural Roads Too Fast To Be Safe
Research has shown there is an alarming amount of fatalities befalling young and inexperienced drivers on rural roads around the UK. For this reason there’s no surprise the topic of the national speed limit is debating its way around the corner.
Should there be a change of speed limit – Are rural roads too fast to be safe?
So What Started The Debate
Originating from the UK Department For Transport a report titled Road Safety Management Capacity Review suggests that yes it should be reduced by at least 5%. For those of you like me needing a little help with your maths that’s only 3 mph less.
There’s no denying it, speed is a major factor when investigating crashes on rural roads. Research has shown that a 10% reduction in average speed can decrease fatal and serious crashes by up to 30%.
With a reduction of speed from 60 mph to 50 mph or 17% imagine the safety benefits.
If we take a look at stopping distances for the original speed limit of 60 MPH against the new proposed limit of 50 MPH we can soon see why many road safety professional favour reduction.
The stopping distances are calculated on a dry day with an alert driver and good tyres and brakes.
60 MPH 73 metres 240 feet 18 car lengths
50 MPH 53 metres 174 feet 13 car lengths
A little Information About The Report
The report was created in conjunction with the Department For Transport by a company called Systra Consultancy. Systra Consultancy work for various government agencies across the world on a local, semi local and national levels. Their report suggests that a 10% reduction in speed on rural roads could reduce fatalities by up to 30%.
Opinions Of Our Road Safety Professionals
Like with any proposed change in the rules there’s always things to consider on both sides. Let’s flip the rural road coin and listen to some of our Pass Me Faster experienced Instructors opinions for and against.
Are Rural Roads Too Fast To Be Safe – YES
Steve G – Pass Me Faster Middlesbrough
With curving bending roads, poor visibility, uneven road surfaces, potholes, farm machinery the list of dangers just go on forever. Surely a drop in speed would would benefit all motorists meandering their way out on that Sunday drive in the countryside.
If it was up to me before younger inexperienced drivers were aloud out on the road they should have to complete some sort of advanced driving course post test. We offer a Pass Plus course or Advanced driving courses here at Pass Me Faster. With many test centres located away from rural roads its not unacceptable to say that some learner drivers first rural encounter could be by themselves.
If we look at the figures above there’s no denying it slower speed equals shorter stopping distances. It’s just plain physics. But also think about this –
The driver now has slightly more time to react and with the car moving at a slower speed the kinetic damage caused in the crash will also be far less.
Are Rural Roads To Fast To Be Safe – NO
Geof T – Pass Me Faster Northallerton
If a student has had the sufficient amount of on road training in a suitable training area there should be no reason why they can’t cope with any situation thrown their way. Of course in a perfect world all students would complete a recommended amount of on road training.
Further training via Pass Plus or an advanced course would also be a great idea and maybe should be enforced.
The real challenge to the driving couch however is to help the learner driver be self aware of the hazards they face on rural roads. All experienced drivers ask yourself this question –
You decide to overtake a slow moving tractor. You realise you’ve made a mis judgement and getting back to the left safely is looking a bit sketchy.
Would you push over the speed limit a little to get past and prevent a head on collision?
Why have a blanket reduction in speed limit and yet another rule to follow if we can train our learners to evaluate situations framed in their own versions of common sense and views of safety.
Have a think back to some of the things a learner driver may do to adjust their speed which isn’t force fed to them. On an evening they may pass an empty school area at full speed instead of the reduced speed of school kicking out time.
Are Rural Roads To Fast To Be Safe – Final Thoughts
All things considered I guess the arguments for and against a reduction in speed limit comes from whether
(A) We can help a learner driver develop their own common sense to assess what speed is suitable.
(B) How a new speed limit would be policed and whether it would be adhered to.
There’s no denying it that a reduction in speed when we look at the statistics would help reduce fatal accidents but only if the limits were adhered to in the first place.
How could the limits be policed? On the A9 in Scotland average speed cameras from end to end have raised compliance to nearly 100%. How many stretches of rural road sprawling across britain could be policed by cameras alone?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on whether the national speed limit on rural roads should be reduced to 50 mph. Please comment below.