Sensible speed limits: we need 5 mph increments!
With local arguments raging about whether traffic will comply with the introduction of the trial 20 mph speed limits to be introduced in Limpley Stoke and especially Westwood there has arisen a query as to why we can't have 25 mph speed limits for roads that are regarded as too fast for a 30 mph limit and too slow for a 20 mph limit.
The USA has at its disposal a speed limit system that may use increments of 5 mph. This system allows for highway engineers to set speed limits that are matched to the road and its associated geometry. So, why can't our highway engineers have the option of finely tuning our speed limits?
A Google search does not result in references to why the UK does not have the option of using speed limits that are posted in multiples of 5 mph, other than some possible legal issue in relation to motor vehicle speedometer design variations. Surely, we can think of speed limits other than in multiples of ten? Anticipating that I might be suggesting more road signs to clutter up the countryside and distract drivers, I would like to suggest that I am not proposing more road signs, only that in suitable locations the existing limits may be changed. The proposed changes might be an increase in the existing speed limit or a reduction but they would be sensible changes to what at present are often speed limits that are inappropriate. Probably, the majority of speed limits are set correctly, but there are others that are not.
Highways authorities tend to respond to requests to lower speed limits only when accident figures confirm that a road is dangerous. They ignore the intimidation that non motorists are subject to. They have coined the term Traffic Intimidation and have even held courses to help people come to terms with their fears. Nonsense, what we want is the freedom to walk, or cycle, or ride a horse on our local roads within or close to our villages without feeling that our lives are at risk.
Wiltshire County Council has responded to the increasing demand for action by frightened and angry residents by agreeing to run trial 20 mph speed limits in Limpley Stoke and Westwood and I compliment them for doing so. However, in relation to Lower Westwood Road in Westwood my opinion is that a 25 mph speed limit would be more appropriate. But then that's my opinion, if the Highway authority agrees with me, we are back to the issues of this article that a 25 mph speed limit is not yet legal.
On paper, what speed limits mean is that the posted speed limit is the absolute maximum speed that a vehicle might be driven at in ideal conditions ie. with due regard for road conditions: weather, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders and pot holes! In which case the question one could pose is can any of these roads be driven at even for short distances at a speed of for example, 30 mph? If there are stretches of road where 30 mph under ideal conditions is appropriate then fair enough keep them. Fair enough, provided that that's what drivers think and are prepared to respond to, unfortunately, who can argue that motorists tend to drive at the maximum speed limit rather than regard the posted speed limit as the maximum?