Letter: Speed merchants

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I do not know what Lynn Sloman's qualifications are for the position of Assistant Director of Transport 2000 (letter, 23 September). She tells us that in Austria a cut in the speed limit to 30kph reduced deaths and serious injuries by 24 per cent. Well, fancy that. I can tell Ms Sloman, without benefit of expensive scientific study or social experiment, that a cut in the speed limit to 0kph will reduce deaths by 100 per cent. Is she proposing continual cuts to zero, or does she regard the number of road deaths that result from a 30kph limit as acceptable?

Her claim that lower speed limits result in drivers arriving at their destinations more quickly beggars belief. She has obviously half-read, wholly misunderstood and badly misquoted the research data, which simply suggest that lower speed limits even out traffic flow on congested roads. Drivers arrive later, but allegedly in a better mood, because they feel that they have travelled more smoothly.

She has also misinterpreted the research data on engine efficiency and pollution. The speed of optimum efficiency and pollution level varies between 50 and 75mph depending on engine size (in addition to many other factors).

So Ms Sloman should drive at 50mph if she has a 1-litre car, whilst I should drive at 70mph in my 2.2-litre car. Perhaps she would like each car to be manufactured with its own speed limit painted on the back, and then we could all drive according to that limit.

Transport 2000, whoever they are, are entitled to speak for themselves. I am delighted to see The Independent speaking for the majority by taking the stance it has on John Prescott's desperate but pathetic attempts to be seen to be doing something - anything - to justify his job.