London, 28 Feb 1997.
For immediate release.

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M25 Variable Speed Limit Trial
The results of the trial on the M25 of variable speed limits have just been announced.

The ABD has always been in favour of the concept of `intelligent' signage to warn drivers of hazards, and supports speed limits where they are set appropriately for the prevailing road conditions.

However, this scheme has confirmed our worst fears about abuse of variable speed limits by the authorities, which are:

Limits are reduced when that is deemed necessary but not increased in good, light traffic conditions when it is perfectly safe to do 80 or 90.

True variable limits, as found on German autobahns, educate drivers to match their speed to conditions and thus gain their respect for the lower limits by treating them reasonably.

Enforcement of these limits by speed cameras set only 10% over the limit is abhorrent.

It was promised on the introduction of cameras that they would be used only in speed related accident blackspots. In this case they have been used aggressively to police limits which are there not for safety but to increase traffic densities to avoid the expense of providing the adequate road system motorists are already paying over the odds for.

Drivers are thus losing their licences and livelihoods as a result of lack of transport investment, which is totally unacceptable.

Camera enforcement undermines respect for the scheme and encourages resistance tactics such as braking at the gantries which creates exactly the sort of stop start waves the scheme was designed to avoid.

With cameras set only 5mph over an unnaturally low limit, constant concentration on the speedometer is required at the expense of due attention to other traffic hazards. This undermines the genuine safety improvements resulting from the smoothing of the traffic flow and advance warning of stationary traffic.

Lane discipline is undermined by prominent instructions to `stay in lane'.Police and drivers groups have spent years trying to educate the `Centre Lane Owners Club' to move over. This instruction totally undermines all these efforts.

The ABD Roads and Traffic Spokesman said:

"My own experience of this section of motorway is of two heart in mouth experiences of near misses, both directly caused by the variable limit regime and associated cameras.

In the first, I was forced to brake sharply when the gantry in front changed suddenly from 60 to 50 at the same time as a car was closing rapidly on my rear.

On another occasion, a van pulled out into my lane, forcing evasive action on my part. He was unable to see me because I was forced by the uniform speed of both lanes to sit in his blindspot".

The authorities desire for petty enforcement and contempt for road users has done much to negate a potentially very positive contribution to road safety and ease of travel.

 

Notes for Editors