The Times brought potentially depressing news for drivers over the weekend in the shape of government plans to cut speed limits from 60 to 50mph on most rural roads ‚ with more total journey time speed cameras to enforce.

The move would not entail any major change to road signs. The current “argent bend sinister sable” road signs would simply indicate a 50mph limit in future, with a 60mph in force on the straightest and safest A roads only.

Given that drivers are three times as likely to die on rural as opposed to urban roads, with 1,603 killed in 2007 alone, something clearly needs to be done.

According to the Times, the DTI expects the move to save 250 lives a year ‚ as well as cutting fuel consumption and carbon emissions. But given that DfT statistics show average speeds of just 48mph currently on free-flowing rural roads, this is open to question.

Expect to see all the usual arguments rolled out as to whether speed, inattention, recklessness, the wrong kind of snow/leaves/deer/drivers or just plain boredom is most to blame for accidents on rural roads.

One way or another, the spectre of Orwellian totalitarian surveillance looms ever larger. Though of course, if you are not doing anything wrong you surely won’t object to being filmed 24 hours a day.

More entertainingly, The Times Online also brings us some bloke recreating that motorcycle stunt from The Great Escape (technically illegal, obviously, under German traffic regulations of the time):



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