We should do away with speed limits. That’s the message from Norfolk police commissioner Stephen Bett, who claims people should be able to drive as fast as they want to on motorways and main roads, as long as it’s safe to do so.
“We ought to drive to road conditions rather than set limits,” said Betts. “The problem is there’s so many signs. You are driving along and you get mesmerised by them and you get situations where you get a 50 [limit], to 40 to 30 and it goes to 20 and back up again.”
“If we’re going to do something about speed and villages, we ought to just take all the signs down and say all villages are 30mph, or whatever it’s going to be, and you drive on roads – like they do in Germany and Italy – as road conditions say.”
“People say if people are going fast they will cause trouble, but a lot of people, if [the limit] was 70mph, would go faster anyway.”
Bett went on to talk about how a good driver should be allowed to go faster, claiming that an F1 driver with “tremendous reflexes” would cope better at high speed than a less experienced driver.
A number of critics quickly defended the notion of speed limits. Kevin Clinton, head honcho of safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Abolishing speed limits is a daft idea,” while CEO of the Guild of Experienced Motorists David Williams made a similar point: “Twenty-four percent of road deaths are caused by inappropriate speed. We need to protect innocent road users from people who think that they can drive faster, like racing drivers, on the highway. That just is nonsense.”
The argument of speed vs safety has been raging for many years, with a recent push for the motorway speed limit to be increased delayed amid safety concerns. Is the problem just about how fast you go, or does Bett have a point about good drivers knowing when to go fast and when to go slow?
Mr Bett has today apologised for his remarks. saying: “With hindsight, my message around the clutter of associated signage has been lost in my flippant comments about speeding.
“I fully acknowledge that speed is regarded as a contributory factor in determining the outcome of collisions.
“My comments were not meant to be offensive. I have been out with Roads Policing Officers, and I have lost a close personal friend in a collision, and therefore understand the misery and heartbreak that follow loss of life and serious injury on our roads.
“I am supporting the Norfolk Joint Casualty Reduction Partnership (with Norfolk County Council) and this has contributed to a significant reduction in road deaths and serious injury casualties.”