Natalie Cox: Why the planned spped limit change is misguided


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My mother sticks to 56mph exactly on the road. This is because a man in a garage once told her that it achieved the best value for money, petrol-wise. Reasonable you might say?

Not so much when the car is on two wheels going round a narrow country bend. Not when you're saying your Hail Marys in an attempt to prevent yourself getting spread thinly over whatever tractor is on course to give your mother's Peugeot 206 a high-velocity smooch. She also keeps to 56 on the motorway, no matter how many haulage lorries swagger up indecently close to the car's hindquarters.

My father, being one of those men to whom driving a car with "sports mode" and a seat warmer is akin to reaching nirvana, is different. He sees the outer lane of the motorway as his personal assault course.

His winning approach is as follows: should a car accidentally be in front of you on the track, sorry, M1, approach at speed. Next, use your skills to stay four inches from the boot of the other car, at which point it will gratefully realise that it shouldn't be in the fun lane. Furthermore, in the manner of musical statues but less extreme, should any vehicle with flashing lights appear, you must immediately drop your speed to the number shown in the little white circular sign with the red border. Your score doubles if, when the flashing lights disappear, you switch to sports mode and get from London to Leeds in 26 minutes.

Both of these outstanding citizens are about as likely to change their speedometer habits as the price of petrol is to slide down to under a pound a litre, or as Jeremy Clarkson is to be seen on a Boris bike with his trousers tucked into his socks.

The proposed raising of the speed limit by a paltry 10 miles per hour will, I fear, mean very little for anybody. The vast majority of people will continue to drive just as they did before. Just like the Germans do on their limitless autobahns, where two per one billion road users died in 2008. If the speed limit is raised there will still be congestion on the roads, and there will still be accidents.

But these accidents occur due to bad driving, exploding car parts, and texting your mother to ask what's for tea, mid-roundabout.