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Road Accidents

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what research aimed at reducing road accidents the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research expects to carry out on the new road research track at Crowthorne.

The Road Research Laboratory intends to research into many factors affecting road safety. These include skidding, the behaviour of vehicles during emergency braking, and when colliding with kerbs of various types and with fixed barriers or with other vehicles; also such traffic engineering problems as the layout of road junctions, the timing of traffic signals, control systems for junctions, and the design of road signs.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what investigations have been made by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research into the effectiveness of speed limits in reducing road accidents.

The Road Research Laboratory has analysed data from a number of countries on the speed of traffic and on accident frequency before and after speed limits were imposed.

It was found that speed limits, although exceeded by a high proportion of drivers, produced a major effect in reducing very high speeds. Their imposition in urban areas was usually followed by a marked reduction in serious accidents, but had little effect in reducing speeds just above the limit or on the number of slight accidents.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that this significant information will be made available to those authorities which have the duty of approving applications for the imposition of speed limits?

The information that I have given the House is based upon a report presented by Dr. R. J. Smeed at the Fifth International Study Week in Traffic Engineering, at Nice in 1960, and it was reproduced in the January, 1961, issue of Roads and Road Construction. I believe that this is readily available, but I will look into the matter and if it is not I will have a copy sent to my hon. Friend.