Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Minister of Transport (1) if she will give details of the studies which have been made or are at present being made by her Department or under her auspices to assess the results of the 70 miles per hour speed limit experiment in relation to different classes and types of road, for example, motorways, dual carriageways, three-line and two-line single carriageways;
(2) whether, in connection with the experimental 70 miles per hour limit, she will give particulars of the steps which 24W are being taken to take account, when analysing the results of the experiment, of the actual weather conditions in the period involved.
(3) if she will summarise the most up-to-date data she has obtained from France, Germany and the United States of America as to the effects on road safety of imposing a speed limit of 70 miles per hour or less on main roads;
(4) whether she will provide details of the statistics with which it is intended to compare results of the 70 miles per hour speed limit experiment;
(5) whether she will give details of the studies made by her Department or the Road Research Laboratory to establish bases of comparison and details of any statistics obtained with regard to the value of the 70 miles per hour safety limit;
(6) whether, in connection with the experimental 70 miles per hour speed limit, she will give particulars of steps which are being taken to assess the effect of the experimental limit on traffic flow;
(7) if she will give detailed information as to the steps which are being taken to establish evidence as to the effect of the 70 miles per hour speed limit experiment on traffic behaviour on the various types of road affected, such as the tendency for drivers who would not otherwise have travelled as fast to drive up to the full limit, any increase there has been in accidents during overtaking, and the extent to which the imposition of such a limit provokes a tendency for traffic to bunch up.
§ Mr. John Morris
I have written to the hon. Member, sending him details of the arrangements for assessing the results of the present experiment. In brief, my right hon. Friend shall receive a preliminary assessment from the Road Research Laboratory in March, and additional information will be supplied at the same time by the Police. The views will also be sought of representative bodies, including the motoring organisations, who have agreed to give us information based on their patrols' assessment of driver behaviour. A full R.R.L. report will be published later in the summer.
The assessment will take weather conditions into account as far as possible, and also traffic flow and driver behaviour. It will cover different classes of road 25W as well as motorways. It would be misleading to publish interim statistics; comparisons will, however, be made of accidents, casualties and speeds before and after the imposition of the experimental speed limit.
Information from abroad on speed limits is contained in a number of publications, notably the following:—
- (1) "The influence of speed and speed regulations on traffic flow and accidents" by R. J. Smeed, B.Sc, Ph.D., F.S.S., A.I.C.E. formerly Deputy Director (Traffic and Safety} Road Research Laboratory; now Professor of Traffic Studies, University College, London).
- (2) "Speed restrictions" by R. F. Newby, B.Sc., F.S.S. (Road Research Laboratory).
- (3) "Research on road safety" (Road Research Laboratory, H.M.S.O.; in particular Chapter 6).
- (4) " Research on road traffic" (Road Research Laboratory, H.M.S.O.; in particular Chapter 10).
- (5) "Accidents on main rural highways related to speed, driver and vehicle" by David Solomon (U.S. Bureau of Public Roads—Washington, D.C.).
I am sending copies of the first two publications to the hon. Member, and also a list of studies on traffic and safety by the Road Research Laboratory, many of which relate to speed limits. The third, fourth and fifth publications are held in the Library. Consideration is being given to the future publication, in concise form, of the most important material dealing with the relationship between speed and road safety.