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Rural road safety campaign ignores Department for Transport’s research

9 October 2014

Countryside campaigners have reacted with concern to a new national safety campaign [1]. The THINK! road safety campaign tells drivers that 60 mph remains an appropriate speed on rural roads, despite 60% of traffic fatalities occurring on them.

Ralph Smyth, CPRE’s Transport Campaign Manager, says:

“The new THINK! road safety campaign tells drivers that there will be times when you need to drive under the national speed limit of 60 mph. But research produced for the Department for Transport states that 60 mph is only appropriate on roads engineered to allow safe driving at this speed. The advert suggests it is safe to drive at 60 mph on most rural roads as long as you slow down before bends.

“While we welcome the national THINK! road safety campaign highlighting the dangers of rural roads, it’s time to tell the public that 60 mph should become the exception rather than the norm. Increasing numbers of towns, cities and villages are making 20 mph the norm on their streets, with councils realising that simply trying to ask drivers to slow down does not work. We have the second highest speed limit on rural roads in Europe: lower speed limits are needed in rural areas now.

“We are calling for 50 mph to become the new national speed limit with local authorities able to sign their safest roads at 60 mph. Minor rural roads should be turned into 40 mph zones, a measure that in the Netherlands has proved even more cost effective in saving lives than introducing 20 mph in cities. Trials of 40 mph zones on narrow country roads in the East Riding of Yorkshire have saved £10 for every £1 spent.”

Smyth continued:

“Road safety education campaigns should be backing the proven case for lower speed limits in rural as well as built up areas. This new campaign, however, risks undermining them.”


Notes to Editors

[1] The THINK! Country Roads campaign was launched on 9 October 2014. More information is available at the campaign page.

[2] Using a Freedom of Information request, CPRE obtained a copy of the report Rural Road Safety – policy options (D A Lynam (TRL Limited), 2007).


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