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70mph Motorway Limit In 2014? You're Having A Laugh!

This car has many labels, so it must be smart.
We are continuously shown through adverts and demonstrations that cars these days are jolly safe. We have cars that drive themselves, cushion a pedestrian and detect when you fall asleep. Hell, even basic city cars will stop themselves if they think you're going to hit something. So the message here: cars are pretty damn safe these days.

Of course, we can't be naive though. Travelling in a car still does - and probably always will - carry a potential fatal risk. But if you want to think in that way, then surely every single thing you do carries a fatal risk? I have a drink on my desk right now; it can fall into the computer electronics next to it and start a blazing house fire, but the risk is small. Same applies to modern cars: the risk is there, but it's minute.

This rather sweetly leads me up to a question that I have had in my head for several years (before I was even a petrolhead): 'Why the bloody hell is the motorway speed limit still 70mph?' It seems that I am not the only one who questions the now sluggish pace for a maximum limit. A survey by the automotive giant Autocar reveals that a whopping 95% of UK drives exceed the motorway limit.

This is more common than people doing 70 these days

Here's another more well known statistic: the UK motorway is one of the safest roads in the whole of Europe. And yet we have 95% of drivers speeding on them. I don't know about you, but that certainly says to me how outdated the 70mph limit is right now.

Listen to it screaming 'SAAAFE'

To be honest, it should be no surprise that the 70mph limit comes across as outdated and too slow. This limit was introduced in the 1970's during the oil crisis, with the idea being that the slower speed will help to save fuel. It has remained unchanged ever since, but cars have most certainly changed in the past 40 years or so. We now have disc brakes, air bags, seat belts and crumple zones. Technically speaking, the speed limit should be double what it is now.

The oil crisis

But the 70 limit has been ignored for some time now due to the safety (and arguably effortless cruising) that new cars bring. In fact, the average speed of cars on the motorway now is 79mph. Yes, that really is the average of all lanes, not just the 'fast lane'. But if our motorways are so safe, there is no pressing reason to penalise 95% of drivers. After all, it's not like school kids are going to be crossing the road on a blind corner.

However, that trend seems to be changing. In the recent couple of years, major motorway networks have been converted into 'smart motorways', which include underground sensors to detect traffic, hundreds of CCTV cameras and fancy graphical signs that can tell drivers pretty much anything. Most notably though, smart motorways introduce speed cameras.

Spot the sodding camera
What is interesting (read: annoying) about these speed cameras is that they are grey and very well hidden. Certainly, you wouldn't notice them doing your eighty seventy something along the asphalt. It leads me to beg the question though: if they are so hidden, then the vast majority of drivers who are speeding won't notice them and, you know, won't slow down? The whole point of speed cameras from my point of view is for drivers for notice them and then slow down accordingly. These hidden ones just scream 'WE WANT YOUR MONEY'.

On bridges, completely out of the drivers' sight? Of course they did.
Of course, the government backs these cameras up by saying they are of the motorist's best interests. However, merely a year ago, they were seriously considering raising the limit to 80mph and listing all the pro points that come with it. Oh sweet, sweet irony.

So, a round-up is needed after this unusually long post. Here is what I have managed to conclude: the government are greedy bastards.

70mph Motorway Limit In 2014? You're Having A Laugh! 70mph Motorway Limit In 2014? You're Having A Laugh! Reviewed by Jack Cooper on July 30, 2014 Rating: 5

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