11th April 2019
Will speed limits on dual carriageways be reduced to 50mph?
Well, in Basildon (and parts of Wales) anyway.
Basildon Council is planning on enforcing a mandatory 50mph speed limit on the A127 – 20mph below the national speed limit, in an attempt to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
So, what if a similar speed limit was introduced on every dual carriageway in the country?
How would a 50mph speed limit on dual carriageways affect you?
Initially, you might think that driving 20mph slower would also make your journey times slower – but this may not be the case. Like smart motorways, there is a chance that reducing the speed limit on typically ‘fast’ roads would potentially improve journey reliability and reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Plans are being made to introduce these new speed limits in parts of Basildon and certain Welsh highways, and there are currently no plans to extend the new restrictions to the rest of the UK. This isn’t to say it won’t happen in the future, though.
Even though driving 20mph slower may seem like a hindrance at first, there is one key player set to benefit from reducing your speed: the environment.
Impact on the environment
Air quality is an issue on everyone’s minds at the moment. From the longstanding diesel debate to the well-known health problems associated with air pollution, the pressure is mounting on both local councils and car manufacturers to reduce the number of pollutants emitted by vehicles on the country’s roads.
Enforcing a mandatory 50mph speed limit would be a guaranteed way of reducing automobile pollution. This is because vehicles emit the lowest amount of toxic nitrogen dioxide when travelling between 40mph and 50mph. Driving 20mph slower, paired with gentle acceleration and braking can result in lower fuel consumption, which subsequently means reduced emissions.
Naturally, driving slower can also make roads safer. According to the road safety charity, Brake, every 1mph speed reduction can lead to an estimated 5% fall in crash rates. With more than one in four crashes attributed to excessive speeds, is that a risk you want to take?
Restrictions are currently in place in Basildon and certain Welsh highways, and there are currently no plans to extend the new limits to the rest of the UK. This isn’t to say it won’t happen in the future, though.
Doing your bit to reduce automobile pollution
Even though a 50mph speed limit on dual carriageways seems unlikely, there are still several ways that you can reduce your vehicle’s carbon footprint, while also improving your driving.
Avoid driving (if you don’t have to)
A vehicle left at home is a vehicle emitting nothing. Choosing to leave your vehicle at home, in favour of walking or cycling shorter journeys can reduce your carbon footprint, while also improving your fitness. If driving is an essential part of your everyday life, think about suitable alternatives, like car sharing schemes.
Change your driving style
Rapid acceleration and heavy braking lead to increased fuel consumption, which naturally has a less-than-ideal impact on the environment. The key to combat this is through gently accelerating and braking, while also generally driving at slower speeds.
Plus, skipping gears (when appropriate) when shifting up and changing down can save fuel, while also reducing the number of pollutants emitted by your vehicle. If you don’t believe us – here’s the science.
Service your vehicle regularly
A well-maintained vehicle is cleaner than a poorly maintained one. Regular maintenance – like keeping your tyre pressure correct, changing your oil and cleaning your air filter – can all reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment.
Plus, choosing to service your vehicle at a garage (instead of doing it yourself) helps keep automotive fluids like antifreeze and engine oil out of the local ecosystems. If your vehicle requires a service, contact your local Vasstech branch.
Now that London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (or ULEZ) has come into force, and similar low-emission zones are soon to be introduced into the major cities like Leeds and Manchester, we all need to get used to the idea of driving efficiently – or not driving at all.
Reducing the speed limit by 20mph on all major dual carriageways could be a surefire way of limiting emissions – but local councils will be hesitant to follow in Basildon’s footsteps. Although, as smart motorways are becoming more widespread, interchangeable speed limits on roads are going to become more popular.
Maybe dual carriageways are the next roads to be revolutionised? We’ll wait and see…