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Should your speed be curbed?

The UK Government is cracking down on speeding by giving local councils the power to impose 20mph limits.

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

How much attention do you give to speed limits? Are you the conscientious type who constantly checks the speedometer, or do you just slam on the brakes every time you see a speed camera or a roadside police patrol?

Drivers in the UK will have to be more vigilant next month after the government gave local councils unrestricted powers to impose 20mph limits.

"Home zones" in residential areas and around schools will enforce lower limits with traffic calming methods like sleeping policemen.

It is also thought that ministers will turn down calls from motor organisations to increase the speed limit on motorways from 70mph to 80mph.

The Royal Automobile Club and the Automobile Association say the motorway speed limit is too low when most family cars can safely travel at 80mph.

But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott thinks drivers should resist putting their foot down for the sake of the environment - independent experts say there is a dramatic increase in harmful exhaust emissions when cars travel faster than 60mph.

Attitudes towards speeding vary enormously around the world. In the US you are forced to amble along interstates at a conservative 55mph or 65mph, but in Germany you can cruise down the autobahns at any speed you like.

Do you think there should be tighter restrictions on how fast you can drive?

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

Anybody who objects to lower urban speed limits should CONSIDER TAKING A TRAIN OR A BUS! It is not enough to say it infringes on civil liberties when speed in the wrong place kills.
Robert Hartwell, Sweden

I do not think that people will control themselves and the rules have to be made and enforced to ensure that convenience of speed is not at the expense of life and injury. If more people would be caught by automatic systems there would be a willingness to accept a culture of safety over convenience.
Seamus Crowe, England

On a quiet road tonight, try driving at 20 mph. It's barely a brisk jogging pace. It's ridiculous and unenforceable. Speeding is never going to be "as socially unacceptable as drink-driving" if speed limits are set too low. They will not be taken seriously and will bring the law into disrepute (if it isn't already). When there are 20mph limits outside schools, what happens when the school is shut? School holidays? Weekends? Are motorists still expected to crawl past?
Alex Roebuck, England

Curbing speed is a cynical revenue generator to justify more speed cameras.
Ross Herbert, England

If we stopped subsidising roads and invested in public transport to make it efficient, accessible and affordable for all perhaps we wouldn't even have to have this discussion. But in the mean time let's start thinking about people other than ourselves and drive in an intelligent considerate manner. And for those who can't manage that, then let's have clear, unilaterally applied legislation.
Michelle Kiener, UK

A child's life is worth 10 minutes of anyone's travelling time, in fact, my life is worth 10 minutes of anyone's travelling time... Slow down the traffic and enforce the limits. Speeding should eventually join drink-driving as a socially unacceptable act.
David Mason, UK

This issue is about the rights of councils to impose lower speed limits, rather than speeding per se. The problem here is that once that right has been granted, how far will it extend? While 20mph speed limits outside schools and hospitals may be welcome (and any competent driver should slow down and drive carefully anyway in this situation), what worries me is that with the current 'nannying' tendencies of the Government on road and driving issues, this may lead to the imposition of unrealistic speed limits on roads that can safely be driven along at fairly high speed, given the right conditions.
In my opinion this is an infringement of personal liberties and a reduction of our rights to the lowest common denominator in this increasingly regulated world, and is just not on. I believe instead that the Government should be instigating driver training and awareness programs rather than imposing blanket conditions on how, what and where we can drive.
Caroline Woodley, UK

Spokes the East Kent Cycling Campaign Group is proposing a 40 mph default speed for all non motorway roads. This way the Highway Authorities will have to come up with excellent safety reasons why the speed of a road should be raised to 50 or 60 mph. At present they have to come up with reasons why a road has to be lowered from the default speed of 60 mph.
With the ever increasing amount of traffic on the roads we must look at speeds from a different point of view...that of the vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, ramblers and motorcyclists. These categories MUST be considered first in the pecking order as they are the most vulnerable. By lowering the speeds of most rural roads, it will make it so much safer for those road users mentioned above who have as much right to road space as car drivers.
David Ledger, UK

Definitely our speed should be curbed. The only reason the death rate is not rapidly rising on Britain's roads is that many people have been forced off the roads - particularly children. I am a GP and there is major concern about the fitness of children and the mobility of the population in general. Every time we ask about cycling and walking the answer is the same - fear of traffic. Lower and enforced speed limits are long overdue and are now supported by a large consensus of people.
Paul Docherty, UK

Driving within the limits of the prevailing conditions is far more important than adhering to an arbitrary speed limit. 20mph could be considered excessive outside a junior school, just as everyone is leaving. Conversely, there are occasions, on a deserted motorway, for example, when the speed limit may seem unnecessarily stringent. Common sense and consideration for other road users are the important factors.
Peter, UK

After coming to work here in broadcasting in 1993 I was shocked to find no rules on the road, but there are fewer accidents here and they have never heard of road rage. So where do we draw the line?
Tim Catlin, Lebanon

20mph gives streets back to vulnerable users and sends the right messages. Vehicle drivers have become impervious to what is happening outside the shell.
Rick Pannell, UK

Speed is the most consistent factor affecting the outcome of incidents on the road, and also the most difficult to police. The technology for automatic speed limiters using GPS (global positioning satellite) exists and should be used. In what other area of day to day life would we not introduce such a system if it could prevent illegal behaviour and save many hundreds of lives as a result.
J Richfield, UK

Speed does not kill people. People kill people, by driving selfishly and inappropriately. Roads are not the place for "getting your kicks" by driving fast or by any other means. The only way roads can deliver what they are supposed i.e. efficient personal transportation is to use them responsibly, driving at a sensible speed for the conditions and making journeys that need to be made.
There is more danger to children from the vehicles on the school run than from any other traffic that they are driven to school to avoid. Speeds should be limited sensibly - 80mph on motorways and speed cameras linked to bank account direct debits organised at the time of getting a driving licence.
Carl Bennett, UK

When I was only nine my best friend was killed outright by a car doing only 20 miles an hour - a good reason for us to adopt slow speeds in urban areas.
Sarah Pelendrides, England

How about a driving test every 10 years to weed out the bad drivers?
Ginny, Switzerland

One of the spin off problems of reducing speed limits is that goods take longer to deliver. If the drivers are on the road longer, the cost of the goods will go up. We need to make more effort to develop alternatives to the roads, such as the railways and the inland waterways. The problem is that privatisation has complicated rail investment and the present government does not seem to notice waterways.
Brian Smith, England

It's not really the speed of driving that is the problem, but the style. The police should be focusing on cracking down on dangerous and irresponsible behaviour such as tailgating, running red lights, reckless overtaking and using phones whilst driving. People are still killed and injured by poor and aggressive driving at slow speeds. If you are driving with due care and consideration for the conditions then you should already be driving at a suitable speed to avoid accidents.
Peter Coville, UK

Yet more cries by the "speed kills" nannyists ... the big problem with fixed speed-limits is that they are totally unable to account for varying conditions and factors like time of day. 50MPH in a residential area at 3AM is fine for an alert driver in a well-maintained modern car; 20MPH may be too fast for an elderly driver in a clapped-out car in the wet in the same area.
When the local council put speed-humps in where I live (without, by the way, notifying those of us who lived there), I was one of those who complained: what had been a nice road with free-moving traffic at 40-50MPH now is a bump-and-grind at 20MPH. More congestion, more pollution... just what we didn't ask for!
Pete Morgan-Lucas, UK

20mph is plenty in urban traffic. You'll get there quick enough, with a reduction in fuel costs, emissions and lives lost.
Stewart C. Russell, Scotland

All traffic calming methods imposed by local councils have failed. To cut congestion you should ban commercial vehicles and school runs during peak hours. The majority of vehicles that would be targeted by the 20mph limit would only be lazy parents driving their even lazier children to the school gates. To stop this problem there should be resident only parking within 500m of the schools. That would deter school runs as there would be nowhere for them to park.
Ian Smillie, England

I am a company car driver, who drives around 40k miles a year. I habitually speed, yet I am accident-free since long before I began driving a large mileage. Speed does not kill - inappropriate speed does. I believe that the money, which is spent on enforcing the current laws, should be spent on enabling variable speed limits on all of our roads - dependent on conditions. Someone who drives past a school at a legal 30mph at 3.30pm, is more dangerous than someone travelling at an illegal 80mph on a motorway in the right conditions. More realistic limits would be better observed than the current unrealistic ones. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN PUNISHMENT!
Gethyn Davies, Britain

20 mph is not on. I am fed up being penalised for driving a car. I can cycle faster than that!
Neil Chowney, England

Driving down residential streets at speeds of 40 mph plus, as many drivers in our area do, is like playing Russian roulette with the lives of pedestrians, many of them children.
Helen Barnes, UK

Jams, junctions, lights and roundabouts slow you down not speed limits. Accelerating quickly means braking hard, it doesn't increase your average speed, it just makes your driving more dangerous.
Andrew Porter, UK

Speed is constantly targeted seemingly because it is the only thing that can be enforced, not necessarily because it is the major cause of accidents. From several recent TV programmes on the subject, it would seem that driver attitudes are largely to blame, rather than speed, per se. An idiot is an idiot at any speed. A final point - Autobahns are only de-restricted on limited stretches and they have (I believe) speed limits in urban areas of 30kph (approx 20mph).
David Saxby, England

I am for the introduction of lower speed limits in residential areas and near schools. However, I am strongly against the unrealistic limits imposed on other types of road irrespective of road conditions. I am also against the "Big brother" approach of enforcement through speed cameras. A camera is not able to make an informed decision as to whether the driver was driving dangerously. I am afraid that safe but speeding motorists will just become an additional source of revenue for the government.
Ross Pierrepont, England

It's a silly state of affairs that someone can be prosecuted for travelling at 90mph or more on a clear, dry, motorway on a good day, yet someone can legally drive through a street crowded with pedestrians at 30mph where speeds of 5-10mph would be more appropriate.
M Caple, UK

The restrictions in this country are already some of the lowest in Europe. Lowering speed restrictions does not satisfy the thrill needs of motorists and therefore will have little effect. UK should be increasing speed limits more in line with Germany, in this way "Speed Freaks" can get their kicks on the motorways, and will not need to speed in the towns.
Nigel, UK

I believe that speed limits should exist and be firmly applied. Here in Canada we have speed limits of 40km per hour in school zones. In this type of scenario I believe they work. I also think that 70mph is a sufficiently high speed for motorway traffic. Slower speeds on Motorways seem to lead to 'bunching'. I used to drive the M6 every weekend during the petrol crisis of the 70's and that's why I believe 70mph is reasonable.
Sandy Campbell, Canada

If the speed max limit in the UK is 70mph, why doesn't the government force car manufactures to place speed limits on the cars?
James Holgate, UK

If the government wants us all to drive at or under the speed limit then I have a suggestion. Perhaps I'm being a bit radical, but how feasible would it be to install speed limiting equipment such as used in pit lanes at F1 Grand Prix's? Therefore, no-one could break the statutory speed limit. However, I do feel that sped limits should be flexible on some roads, for example when schools are emptying + slower When a driver is on a deserted motorway at 3am then limit raised to 80 or 90 (Which seems to be the norm anyway!) However, the personal freedom of the drivers must be seen as less important than those who need to walk around cities and towns in a safe environment and 30mph or even 20mph may be too fast on occasions.
Brian Steele, Scotland

What a pompous decision by The Labour Party to impose yet further speeding restrictions. In Germany most of the motorways have no speed limit at all and therefore people drive the biggest and fastest cars which in turn boosts the German manufacturing economy. I think the Labour Party will lose many votes at the next election because of this.
Thelma Matuk, Germany

We all have seen cars exceeding the speed limit, and I would bet all drivers have broken the speed limit if not today then at some time in the last week, and every driver has broken the speed limit on many occasions. We can all argue that we are good drivers, and no doubt we all are, but the hospital are full of the result of good drivers, but the fact is that speed does kill. Why is it so important that we must arrive in the quickest time possible no matter what the cost? The other question is, what do we all do with the extra minutes we saved on the journey, by driving at higher speeds than the limit?
John Foster, UK

The speed limits that we all currently abide to were set way back when most cars had drum brakes. I agree that we need to look at the UK's speed limits, but I think they need to look at increasing the speed limit rather than lowering it.
Simon Davison, UK

I definitely think that speeds should be curbed. Oxon CC is introducing 30mph speed limits in all its settlements with 20 or more houses.
Cllr Brian Hodgson, UK

I agree that in some built up areas - housing estates, near schools and dense shopping areas speeds should be reduced to even 15 mph in some cases. Motorways the limit should be 80mph (which is close to most European limits). In some areas where there is currently a 30/40 limit this is actually too low and should be reviewed.
Peter Carr, England

It is not excessive speed which causes so many deaths. Indeed it is the inappropriate use of speed which causes death. If cars are made to drive 150mph and circumstances permit this, then one should be able drive at their leisure.
We should all remember that a child could be killed even at 20 mph. Each driving circumstance requires a judgement to be made, what is not needed is interference from the government. Speed limits do not work, they are irrelevant and British motoring organisations have commented to this effect.
Saqib Dodhy, UK

Clamp-downs on speeding are popular with the police and the government, because speeding is an easily quantified offence. Offences such as driving without due care and attention, careless driving, and others of that ilk are of far more relevance to the safety of our roads, but you can't simply ask a camera to police them for you.
Malcolm Williams, England

Why bother to reduce the speed limit when it is impossible to enforce the current one. This only brings the law into further contempt.
Dick Stroud, UK

Sleeping policeman:
I see the problem with these kind of measures as being that they only really deter old cars from speeding. Far too often new cars just roll straight over them at speed, with their suspension just absorbing the bump. In general it would probably be true to say that it's the new cars that are mostly speeding. My old car can barely gain any speed, but due to my limited suspension I tend to slow to about 10mph with speed bumps.
My solution would be to have many more speed cameras, with the proceeds of prosecutions funding yet more speed cameras. And for pity's sake leave film in all of them!
Martin Shaw, England

Statistics show that motorways are much safer than other types of roads, and most accidents on motorways are not speed related, when travelling under normal conditions. Clearly you have to curb your speed when conditions are bad, but this is not an argument for lowering speed limits in general.
Additionally, speed limits across the country are often very confusing and conflicting. For example on the A41 near Watford it is 40 mph going towards London and 50 mph going towards Aylesbury. Hmm..
Speed limits should be reviewed across the board, and limited where there is a need to have lower limits, near schools, playgrounds etc. Also new housing developments should change speed limits on existing roads. Technology should also play a part. It may be reasonable to have 20 mph limit near a primary school during the day, but at 11 at night, 20 mph is meaningless, and should be higher. Inconsistent and "wrong" speed limits brings the limit in an area into disrepute, and becomes ignored, thus making it more dangerous for all concerned.
Ragnar Storm, England

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