‘Draconian’: Drivers slam plans to cut ‘ridiculous’ rural speed limits from 60mph to 20mph

UK motorways: Highways England warns drivers of speed limits

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Council officials in Surrey Hills are planning to cut the speed limits to deter cheap motorbikes and loud cars from speeding at night. The new 20mph speed restriction will be piloted in the Surrey Hills, covering roughly 80 square miles south of the A25 from Guildford to Dorking.

Currently, the roads are at the national speed limit of 60mph.

Other councils across West Sussex are also considering taking part in the scheme.

Councillor Stuart McLachlan said rural roads in his Capel parish council in Surrey were in desperate need of safety regulations.

He said: “We get joyriders in 4x4s coming at midnight, charging up and down the byways.

“They come in the winter, when it’s all muddy, and after dark.

“They buy an old banger for £50, run it into the ground and just set fire to it,” he told the Sunday Times.

Surrey Council said the default national 60mph speed limit is inappropriate for most minor rural roads.

It instead insisted that driving at that speed on windy and bendy stretches is reckless.

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The Council added that the changes will reduce the risk and severity of crashes.

People are seven times more likely to survive if they are hit by a car driving at 20mph than if they are hit at 30mph.

It also said that it will reduce air and noise pollution in the area, with the overall safety benefits making it more pleasant for locals to walk, cycle and ride horses.

The pilot scheme’s success will be based upon how many drivers comply, Surrey and Sussex police forces have said.

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Reacting to the news, one Twitter user slammed the proposals, branding them a “huge overreaction”.

They said: “I am a lifelong user of rural roads & know some people do drive at unsafe speeds on them. 

“But I think draconian speed limits are a huge overreaction. 

“What is really needed is education of drivers to remind them of what the Highway Code says about speed limits.”

Another said: “20mph is a ridiculous and dangerous speed in town and elsewhere. 

“You are constantly looking at the dial and not concentrating on the road.”

According to the Department for Transport, around 57 percent of deaths on British roads are in rural areas.

This is despite country roads accounting for just 43 percent of total traffic across the UK.

Rural roads are also 10 times more dangerous than motorways, with around 10,000 deaths and serious injuries every year.

Cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers are more than three times as likely to be killed per mile travelled on a rural road than on an urban road, cycling charity Brake reported.

Mary Williams, the CEO of Brake, said: “There are so many unpredictable risks — whether a branch around the corner, someone on a bike, or an animal — that you can’t engineer your way out of trouble.”

British Cycling, the sport’s governing body, also urged the Government to cut the speed limit by half on thousands of miles of rural roads without white markings.

Policy manager Nick Chamberlain said 30mph “is a much more sensible default”.

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