The 18th of March is a significant date in road safety terms in the UK, as on that date, in 1935, 80 years ago, the 30 miles per hour speed limit was introduced in a bid to make the roads a safer place.


However, many road safety campaigners still feel that not enough is being done to control the speed of vehicles, especially on lower speed roads, as the maximum speed limit is reduced in order to provide additional safety to more vulnerable road users, and as countless drivers frequently ignore the limits, road users are still at risk of serious injury and death.

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is a company that has joined the campaign calling for drivers across the country to give an extra thought to safety on their journeys. David Williams MBE, chief executive, said: “Speed limits are there to help keep all road users safe, and official figures from the Department of Transport show that with every 1mph reduction in average speeds on a road, there is a 6% reduction in collisions.

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“We know that there has been great progress made in the fields of technology and engineering, giving better protection to vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a collision. However, today we want to put the human factor at the heart of the debate, because we believe improving driver behaviour – to achieve much higher levels of compliance with speed limits – is key to ensuring further reductions in deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

A 30mph speed limit for built-up areas formed part of the Road Traffic Act 1934, introduced by the Minister of Transport, Leslie Hore-Belisha. The move followed a spate of deaths following the repeal of a blanket 20mph speed limit for light vehicles in 1930. The new limit was implemented on 18 March 1935.

GEM has produced a set of easy-to-follow tips that will help prevent a driver exceeding speed limits:

Make regular checks of your speedometer. Frequent glances allow you to make minor corrections if you’re drifting above the limit.

Look for lamp posts. If there are lamp posts along the road, then the limit will be 30mph unless there are signs to tell you otherwise.

Try driving along in third gear in a 30mph limit. If you start going faster, the increased engine noise will be more obvious.

Be observant. Look as far down the road ahead as you can, and you’ll pick up clues that you might be approaching a lower speed limit.

Leave earlier. People who are late are more prone to exceed the speed limit, so take the pressure off yourself and allow plenty of time for a journey.

No one can tell you to break the speed limit. If you feel pressurised by faster drivers close behind you, then slow down and let them overtake.

Of course the same advice is relevant wherever you might be, and whatever speed limit the road might have. Speed limits are there for a reason, and aim to try to make roads safer, but the onus is on the drivers to slow down and keep themselves, their passengers and other road users safer on the roads.

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