Coaches banned from fast lane

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The Independent Online
Coaches are to be banned from the fast lane of motorways despite protests from carriers that this will increase risk to passengers, writes Christian Wolmar.

The ban, announced yesterday by Brian Mawhinney, Secretary of State for Transport, will take effect on 1 January next year, the same date speed limiters restricting coaches to 65mph become mandatory for all coaches built since 1974. It will be introducedon a trial basis and reviewed when two years of accident data become available Dr Mawhinney said the ban was being introduced because he was "concerned about the safety implications of allowing coaches to continue using the outside lane when they can nolonger travel at the same maximum speed as cars".

The Department of Transport said the ban had the strong support of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the AA.

However, Veronica Palmer, director general of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents coach owners, said the move was inconsistent and called it "motorway madness". She said: "Coaches will now have to share lanes with HGV vehicles which are limited to 56mph. Why is it unsafe for coaches to share lanes with cars going over 65mph, but safe to share them with lorries travelling much slower than coaches?"