In the aftermath of the M5 crash last Friday evening we had the usual suspects line up to tell us that speed is a horrible thing. Well, to be fair, in this case speed does appear to have been a significant factor. One eyewitness told of vehicles travelling at 60mph. Given the conditions – he described thick fog – this was rank stupidity and the crash was a logical outcome. That’s what happens when you drive too fast in poor visibility – you have a tendency to bump into things.
However, we had RoSPA spouting on the box on Saturday evening about the proposed raising of motorway speed limits to 80mph and how terrible this would be. RoSPA cannot condone such a move, we are told. The outcome will be more such accidents and the increased speeds will increase the consequence.
Well, there might be a point to be made on the latter; greater speed will result in greater impact, but what RoSPA seems to be forgetting is that traffic already travels on the motorways in excess of 80mph – and if you don’t believe me, then travel at that speed on the inside lane and watch everything else belt past you – trucks excepted, of course. And the M1 around Nottingham, naturally, where 50mph is going some if you are lucky.
RoSPA also seems to be ignoring Europe, which already has a maximum 130kmh speed limit and narrower roads to boot – and they are not in a state of carnage. This is panic from the usual panic merchants. Last Friday’s crash had nothing to do with speed limits and everything to do with driving at an appropriate speed for the conditions (even if this wasn’t the root cause, it certainly exacerbated it going by eyewitness testimony). A good driver recognises a safe speed and regulates speed according to the prevailing conditions, irrespective of the posted limit.
Raising the speed limits to 80mph will have no effect on such incidents whatsoever as the speed limit was not a factor. It doesn’t matter whether the maximum is 70mph, 80mph or 180mph; in dense fog, the appropriate speed is that in which you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear. RoSPA know this damned well and are being highly disingenuous – not to mention crass in using multiple deaths to push their own political agenda.