Expert explains why country lanes have 60mph speed limit

A motorist sparked a debate on social media about the seemingly high speed limits on narrow country lanes in the UK.

Taking to Reddit to admit his confusion over the 60mph limit on some roads, he asked: “Genuinely, why are many country roads in the UK set at the national speed limit?”

He further elaborated his point by sharing a picture of a typical narrow, winding lane with poor visibility as he pondered: “Why would anyone in their right mind even consider going anywhere near 60mph when these roads are winding, narrow and have such poor visibility? I might just be being ignorant but I don’t understand it.”

Another Reddit user responded to the query by explaining: “It doesn’t mean that you can safely barrel along at 60 – you may need to slow down to an absolute crawl on a tight bend on a country road in case there is oncoming traffic – but then if there’s a long straight you can do 60.

“A blanket 30 or 40 on all country roads would significantly impact the lives of rural communities.”

A second individual chimed in: “Outside of urban areas, many roads haven’t all been graded for speed, so you can drive at whatever speed is safe to do so according to conditions, but not exceeding the national speed limit for your class of vehicle. Remember, it’s a speed limit, not a target.”

In response to the post, a man whose profession involves setting speed limits offered his own comprehensive explanation. He clarified: “Setting speed limits is my job, I am a highways engineer.

“I haven’t seen the proper answer yet so here is my go! It’s a very roundabout way to do things but drivers generally don’t follow the signs on the road apart from a few select circumstances. We have to take this in mind when it comes to setting a speed limit.”

He continued: “When changing a speed limit with signs alone, average speeds drop by only 1mph. If people are going down a national speed limit road at 58mph and we make it 40 or 50, the average speed would then be 57mph. The criteria for a 40mph limit is substantial development, bends and accesses (but not enough to warrant a 30mph limit). A 50mph criteria is similar but less strict.

“If a road meets the 40 or 50 criteria, the speeds need to already be in the enforcement criteria (10% + 2 above the limit). If they aren’t already there, changing the speed limit won’t achieve that. If there is a desire to lower the speed on that road for safety reasons, we have to first engineer the speeds down with physical measures.”

It comes as next Sunday (July 7), a new EU regulation kicks in requiring all new cars manufactured in Europe to be equipped with speed limiters. Despite Brexit, this move is set to shake up the UK car market significantly, as many vehicles sold in Britain are produced in the EU.

Motor Match reports: “The new rules, set to take effect in July, introduce ‘mandatory’ speed limiters, changing how we drive on roads. These Intelligent Speed Assistance systems will become standard, forcing drivers to stick to speed limits automatically.”

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