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50 Mph Speed Limit

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1961

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25.

asked the Minister of Transport the total mileage of roads under a 50 m.p.h. speed limit; how many miles of this type of road were previously subject to a 40 m.p.h. speed limit; and how many were previously derestricted.

None, Sir. But on 15 weekends during the summer a speed limit of 50 m.p.h. was imposed experimentally on 750 miles of trunk road. All these roads were previously unrestricted. The experiment ended on 17th September and its results are now being studied.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the imposition of an overall speed limit prevents accidents? Is it not a fact that at one time of the day it might be safe to drive at 50 m.p.h. but that at another time it might be extremely dangerous? Is it not wise to try to prevent the imposition of speed limits wherever possible?

I do not think I would disagree with the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. Our experience with this type of experiment is that last year we found a substantial drop in the number of accidents as a consequence of it. This year, we think that the same picture is likely to be repeated, but we are awaiting the results of the experiment.