Headlines: August 2nd, 2006



A leading insurance company is calling today for the speed limit on rural roads to be reduced to 40 miles per hour because of the high number of deaths in crashes on country lanes. Direct Line’s call for the reduction of the 60mph national speed limit in rural areas is based on research carried out for the company by YouGov.

It found that each year more than 15,000 accidents on country roads result in fatalities or serious injuries and that almost a quarter of all motorists have had a near miss on a rural road in the past five years. Of all road deaths just over two thirds happened on rural roads according to the study.

The Direct Line findings indicate that one of the main causes of these accidents is speeding with 26 per cent of rural drivers admitting to exceeding the 60mph limit. The speeding drivers put forward a number of reasons for this. The company says that worryingly 38 per cent of them believed that speeding was safer in the country because there was less traffic and a third thought the fact there were fewer pedestrians was an excuse for higher speeds. A lack of police presence and fewer speed cameras were the reasons cited by about 13 per cent of motorists.

The study also found there was only limited knowledge about speed limits on rural roads and that two thirds of drivers did not know what the limits were and just over half of them thought there should be signs on rural roads to make them aware of the limit. Almost three quarters of drivers in the study felt the current speed limit is too high for some and two thirds supported the idea of changes to the driving test to include special tuition on how to drive on rural roads.

Emma Holyer, Direct Line’s Motor spokesperson, said the majority of motorists on country roads in summer were likely to be unfamiliar with them and were not aware the roads could be extremely dangerous, especially when approached at high speeds. “We are reminding motorists to drive safely and watch their speeds on all rural roads in a bid to reduce the number of accidents. “We’re also calling on the government to reduce the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph as we feel the current speed limit is too fast for narrow rural lanes,” she said.