Nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year around the glove, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. Road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally. If the government implements a removal of the speed limit of motorway, the safe and security of our citizens will be at risk, not to mention is indirect negative effects on the British economy. It should be our prime aim to uphold safety in this country as all costs, even if that requores placing boundaries and limiting various freedoms.
One of the main reasons why a speed limit on motorways should continue to be imposed is because of the safety of the drivers themselves, as well as others involved. According to a report written by the Department of Transport, there were 24,831 reported serious injuries in road traffic, along with 1,793 reported road deaths in 2017. According to the Road Safety Management Capacity Review drafted by the Department of Transport, inappropriate speed by users within the posted speed limit is typically cited as a regular contributory factor in road crashes, rather than other factors such as inappropriate road design or weather. The Cooperative Crash Injury Study (CCIS) data from Great Britain for 2000–09 indicates that even small changes in mean speed affect fatal and serious crash risk. It had been calculated that for every 1% increase in mean speed, there is a 4% increase in risk of having a fatal crash. The opposite is also applicable, with every 1% decrease in mean speed producing a 4% decrease in fatal crash risk. According to the World Health Organisation, a 5% cut in average speed can result in 30% reduction in the number of fatal crash. In a research carried out by Norwegian academic, Rune Elvik from Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics, using data from 100 studies in more than a dozen countries, an increase in average traffic speeds of just 3mph – a typical change for a 10mph rise – would be expected to cause more than 25 extra deaths a year on motorways and more than 100 serious injuries. As it can be seen, small changes in speed also influence the effectiveness or otherwise of road and vehicle interventions to prevent death and serious injury. Germany is often given as a prime example of a state with no existing speed limit on motorways. However, when comparing the rate of deaths caused by car accidents, the Federal Statistical Office reported that 3,265 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2017 in Germany, where as in the UK, the number was 1,793. A 2008 report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) found that of the 645 road deaths in Germany in 2006, 67% occurred on motorway sections without limits and 33% on stretches with a permanent limit. Empirical evidence indicates that all instances’ of introduced speed limits on German motorways have caused very large casualty reductions. A 1991 case study used in the ETSC report illustrates the results of introducing a speed limit. A 130km speed limit was introduced on a 167km section of the A61 in Rheinland-Pfalz combined with a ban on overtaking heavy good vehicles. The result of both these measures was a 30% reduction in fatal and severe injury accidents.
While supports of the removal of a speed limit argue that it aids in decreasing traffic congestion, the fact that higher speed results in a greater possibility of car accidents as talked about before, it will create havoc and increased traffic on the motorways. While car accidents can happen due to non-speed related causes, personal injuries sustained from car accidents that happen at high speed are usually more severe and thus contribute to car accident fatality statistics. The faster a vehicle travels, the longer it takes to slow down in the event of an obstacle. Even a small increase in speed can result in a much higher risk of being involved in a collision or other type of accident. As such, it’s essential for motorists to be aware of the speed at which they’re traveling and stay within the legal limits.
The removal of speed limits on motorway will indirectly have a negative impact on the economy as well. Britain has played a key role in the development of intelligent speed assistance (ISA) which can help drivers comply with speed limits. Several manufacturers already sell cars in Europe with various implementations of ISA including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot/Citroen, Renault and Volvo. In the U.K., buses and HGVs are legally required to fit speed limiters. Additional systems such as Automated Emergency Braking to slow vehicle speed, especially systems which can help reduce pedestrian death and serious injury, are also considered priorities by those involved in vehicle safety work. These various technological feature have provided the automobile industry with numerous opportunities to expand and flourish. Lifting the speed limit may lead to a fall in business for these various companies. As a free market economy, it is our to deregulate and not let our policies interfere in economic success.
Need for rules and boundaries are necessary. It can be seen that maintaining a speed limit is vital to the health and safety of the British population. While some might argue that individuals have the freedom to drive at the speed they want, at this stage, this freedom threats the live of not only the driver, but others involved as well. Unless action is taken, it has been predicted by the Association for Safe International Road Travel that road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.