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Government to opt-out of speed limit increase

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A campaign group revealed that they believe Wales should opt out of UK proposals of a motorway speed limit increase from 70mph to 80mph.

In October 2011 the UK Government launched a consultation about increasing the motorway speed limit and if it goes ahead, implementing the change will happen early 2013. Department of Transport have argued the proposal of increased limits are due to the fact cars are more advanced in technology compared to how they used to be in 1965 when the limit of 70mph was agreed.

Campaign group Sustainable Transport Cymru feel the increased limit would lead to more accidents, higher casualty rates and more carbon emissions and they want the Welsh Government to use their powers to allow them to set their own speed limit on Welsh motorways.

Lee Waters, chairman of Sustainable Transport Cymru, said: “The Welsh Government has a strong record on road safety, but to sustain this we must continue to make bold decisions that are in the interests of all Welsh people, not the speed of a few.

“Ignoring the argument that this decision has the potential to raise our oil consumption and carbon emissions at a time when we need to cut both, this decision also has the potential to devastate family lives.”

After analysing the Department of Transports figures it revealed that even a 3mph increase would be expected to cause more than 25 extra fatalities a year and more than 100 serious injuries. This is the reason STC are campaigning to stop the increase in Wales, they looked at how much cost  is attached to an annual fatality, which currently stands at £1.5m for emergency services to respond to an accident.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond spoke of the benefits for the economy of increasing the speed limit when it was first announced in October saying: “Increasing the speed limit on motorways from 70 to 80 miles per hour for cars, light vans and motorcycles could provide hundreds of millions of pounds of benefits for the economy and I will put forward formal proposals for making these changes later this year."

The new proposal is looking like it may be agreed by the UK Government but the argument of the STC is that it will cost less for emergency services and will bring the accident count down if the increase is not given the go ahead by the Welsh Government.

The next step for the Welsh Government is to put their feedback forward to the UK Government to see if they can opt out of the increased speed limit on motorways.

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By Amanda Bainbridge