Dubious basis for speed limits

YOUR report (News, 23 June) of the government’s decision to shelve plans for raising 
the maximum speed limit exposes a depressing lack of logic in the arguments advanced. The 70mph limit was almost certainly arrived at in purely arbitrary fashion; it’s difficult to imagine any research likely to prove it more effective than 67mph or 76mph.

As with campaigns about global warming, smoking and alcohol, the arguments quoted cite “statistics” which are both improbably precise and presented without supporting evidence. We’re asked to believe that an 80mph maximum would add annually: £1 billion a year in healthcare and fuel costs, 25 more deaths and 100 serious injuries, and 2.2 million tons of carbon emissions. On what calculation basis?

Higher speed obviously increases fuel consumption, but over a shorter timescale than lower speeds over the same distance. Was this factored into calculation of the increased fuel cost? Was account taken of the many drivers who already regularly drive above the 70mph limit?

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Most puzzling of all, ­perhaps, why is none of the campaigners pushing for a ­reduction in the current limit? The present situation seems to be judged acceptable. On what grounds?

Robert Dow, Tranent