One of my classic car papers had an article on the latest idea for a trial period 60mph speed limit in an attempt to cut pollution and they asked for readers opinions on the subject but the email address didn’t work and I thought as I had written my opinion I thought I would share it here.
SPEED LIMITS. You asked for our opinions!
All speed limits are wrong for you can never have a speed limit that is right for all the different road conditions, day and night 365 days a year.
I rather favour driving to the road conditions, fast when it’s safe and slow when it’s not, for example a deserted motorway on a summers evening or a built-up area when passing a school when the pupils are leaving on a snow-covered road in winter.
The 30mph speed limit was introduced in 1935, this in an age when cars had drum brakes operated by cables and I can tell you from experience of driving my 1935 Austin Seven they would take considerably longer to stop than a modern cars equipped with ABS.
Strange, then that we have cars able to stop so much quicker and yet in plenty of built up areas we now have speed limits of 20mph, the logic of that I find hard to understand.
The speed one can achieve nowadays is generally regulated by the volume of traffic, we don’t actually need overhead cameras on gantries to tell us we have to go slowly on the M25, at least from my experience whenever I use it, I find myself in a moving traffic jam.
I can remember when the 70mph limit was first trialled by The Minister of Transport Barbara Castle who strangely enough was unable to drive herself in December 1965 for four months before it became permanent in July 1967.
I wasn’t driving myself until May 1968 and I seem to recollect the 70mph limit wasn’t strictly adhered to, for should you venture into the outside lane of a motorway in those days you would be well advised to keep a sharp eye on your rear view mirror for faster cars coming from behind flashing their lights to alert you to the speed difference and as a polite way of requesting you remove yourself from the path of their vehicle.
A lesson which might be well learned by some of today’s drivers who seem never to use their rear view mirror and seem unable to notice a police car with headlights and blue lights flashing even when they are right behind them.
Well that’s enough nostalgia from me about the good old days, so in answer to your question; no, I do not want to see a 60mph limit trialled under the pretext that it will make a major difference to world pollution, for we all know it won’t.
Sorry to have gone on so long but it’s quite strange to think that sometime in the future when we are forced to have electric cars and the lights have gone out all over the country, there may be young people nostalgic for the old days, the internal combustion engine and reasonable speed limits.