Nearly half of all drivers in the US drive at 15mph over the speed limit “regularly”, according to research from the AAA, America’s analogy to the AA.
Despite this, fatal crashes in the country have dropped 20 per cent in the past 17 years.
Some campaigners claim that the 70mph is outdated and tout the benefits of an 80mph limit, but would raising the restriction really benefit motorists?
The 70mph limit was first imposed on motorways in 1965, during a four-month trial period that was introduced to cut the high number of accidents after Britain’s first motorway, the M1, was opened in 1959.
Not all of the UK’s motorways are built to ideal standards, the IAM claims, and many have sections with limited sight lines and tight curves, along with slip road designs that mightn’t be able to deal effectively with a higher speed limit.
Although the Institute notes that the introduction of new ‘smart’ motorways which set limits according to traffic flow and density could cope with a higher limit, blanket enforcement of an 80mph speed limit would, at present at least, be unfeasible.
In fact, the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has gone so far as to call the current limits “outdated”, and has called for the revival of proposals to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph.
In 2013, Department for Transport statistics showed that nearly half of all cars, vans and motorcycles broke the 70mph limit on British motorways, leading the AA to claim that the effective speed limit is now 80mph.It points to the fact that the majority of other EU countries have motorway speed limits set at 81mph, and claimed that increasing the limit would improve the flow of traffic and even bring economic benefits.Ian Taylor, director of the ABD, said: “50 years after it was introduced, the 70mph speed limit has long lost the respect of the majority of drivers.Between 19, the study estimates that 12,545 deaths and 36,583 injuries in the US could be directly attributed to speed limit increases, while the number of deaths on rural roads jumped by 9.1 per cent when speed limits were raised.In spite of any benefits to the economy, raising the speed limit would come with a fairly significant upfront cost as well.But does an increase in the speed limit necessarily correlate with an increase in the number of accidents?