Expert backs proposal to increase speed limit

Wednesday 9 May 2012, 8:53AM
By Dog & Lemon Guide

The speed limit could be cautiously raised on certain roads, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, whose road safety research was awarded by the Australian Police Journal, says:

“There are no safe speeds and no safe roads. It’s a question of acceptable risk. The most dangerous roads are ordinary driveways, where children are frequently run over, despite the very low speeds involved.”

“Urban roads near pedestrians need to have low speed limits for the same reason: cars and pedestrians are not compatible.”

“The roads that would be safe for a speed increase would be long, straight highways with roadside fences, centre median barriers and at least two lanes. Because it’s unlikely that cars are going to collide under these conditions, it’s probably safe to increase the speed on these roads.”

Matthew-Wilson does not support raising the motorway speed limit.

“Wherever you have cars leaving and joining the stream of traffic on a motorway, you have a higher risk of accidents. It’s not safe to increase speeds under these conditions.”

“To repeat: road safety is not a question of speed: it’s a question of acceptable risk. The anti-speed lobby currently controls this country’s road safety strategy, despite the fact that 80% of road fatalities occur below the speed limit. However, road design is a major factor in preventing fatalities. With the right conditions in place, I believe the open road speed limit can be safely raised.”

• A 2009 AA summary of 300 fatal crashes found:

“Exceeding speed limits aren't a major issue. Police surveying has found that even the top 15% of open-road speeders average under 110km/ h.[And]

“it is apparent that [many speed-based road fatalities] were caused by people who don't care about any kind of rules. These are men who speed, drink, don't wear safety belts, have no valid license or WoF - who are basically renegades. They usually end up wrapped around a tree, but they can also overtake across a yellow line and take out other motorists as well.”

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