Right of Reply: Jon Fuller

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The Independent Culture
The co-ordinator of the campaign group SpeedLimit responds to a leading

article criticising plans

to enforce stricter speed

limits on drivers

THE EDITORIAL "Ministers are speeding in the wrong direction" missed the mark on humanitarian and environmental grounds.

The case for lowering speed limits and increasing penalties to a point that ensures high compliance is overwhelming. In the UK speeding motorists kill about 1,200 people a year, including 130 children - more than twice the number of drink-drive deaths. With one of the worst child pedestrian fatality rates, nearly 50 per cent more than the EU average, the reality of people's lives (that roads are deadly) proves that travel is best negotiated in the relative safety of a car.

To save lives and reduce pollution a 20mph limit must become the norm in residential areas, returning to children the freedom of mobility stolen by car dependency. With the fear of fast traffic removed the effect is always the same: people will walk, cycle and leave the car at home.

High speeds in the rural environment, where a 60mph limit is still the norm, devastate wildlife and communities alike. Roaring traffic has not only destroyed virtually every area of tranquillity; equestrians' and cyclists' rights are also severely curtailed.

As for our "safest" roads, the motorways, not only is there a case for reducing the speed limit to 55mph on humanitarian grounds (every 1kph reduction in average speed means a 5 per cent reduction in collisions); the argument on environmental grounds is overwhelming. To avoid the devastating consequences of "climate change" we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Seeking optimum fuel efficiency speeds and encouraging rail travel are measures that will both affect emissions. And surely speed control will have a greater impact upon private car use than the hated fuel duty escalator.

Humanitarian measures will not appeal to the inconsiderate, but at least we shall now see whether the notion of common good is relevant to New Labour.

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