Danish road experiment sees accident rate fall on faster roads


Motorway stock

A two-year experiment by the Danish road authorities has revealed that the accident rate has fallen on both single carriageway rural roads and motorways, where the speed limit has been raised.

Danish authorities made the decision to raise the speed limit from 80 km/h (50mph) to 90 km/h (56mph) on two-way rural roads two years ago and increase certain sections of the motorway to 130 km/h (80mph) from 110 km/h (68mph) nine years ago.

Results have shown that accidents have decreased on single-carriageway roads due to a reduction in the speed differential between the slowest and fastest cars.

According to authorities, it has also resulted in less overtaking as the slowest drivers have increased their speeds, but the fastest 15 per cent drive one km/h slower on average, despite the higher limit.

The move was initially met with scepticism – much like proposals to increase the motorway speed limits in this country – as police feared motorists would drive even faster, but they have now reportedly changed their minds.

Erik Mather, a senior Danish traffic police officer said: "The police are perhaps a little biased on this issue, but we've had to completely change our view now that the experiment has gone on for two years."

Fatalities have also decreased on the sections of motorway where the speed limit was raised to 130 km/h (80mph).

Brian Gregory, the chairman of the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) – a group in favour of increased speed limits on UK motorways – said: "These findings vindicate what the ABD has been saying for years, that raising unreasonably low speed limits improves road safety by reducing speed differentials and driver frustration."

He added: "This means reinstating the 85th percentile principle - setting limits that 85 percent of drivers would not wish to exceed.

"Those who have argued that lower speed limits improve safety have been proved wrong."

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