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Speed Limits and health

The following extracts are from a government publication. The report reveals the public health implications of the speed of vehicles

  Excessive speed is a major cause of deaths and injuries, especially in children 

 Speeding is dangerous for the driver (for whom it is a self-imposed risk), passengers and other motorists, but it is especially dangerous for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children and older people.

   Trauma is the most common cause of death among children, and road traffic injuries account for half of these. Two thirds of deaths and serious injuries among children involve child pedestrians injured in road crashes.

   The death rate from road traffic injuries for children in the UK is twice the European average. Most of these injuries occur in urban areas, and excessive speed is the single most important factor in such crashes.

   Even apparently low levels of speeding pose significant risks. For each 1 per cent increase in speed there is a 5 per cent increase in mortality; in many urban and residential situations travelling at the legal speed limit may be too fast.

Physical inactivity is a major public health problem

  Across the UK physical inactivity now has a greater absolute effect on levels of coronary heart disease than smoking, and the problem is increasing, with dramatic increases in overweight and obesity; this is particularly worrying among children. One of the main reasons for reduced activity levels is the decline of walking and cycling resulting from perceptions of danger from fast traffic.

 Road safety

There are many drivers who do drive considerately but there are also many who do not. For those that do not drive with due care and consideration there are speed limits. Speed limits should help to enforce safer driving. However, unless the police are able to use speed traps on a regular basis there is unlikely to be a great change in driver behaviour. Until drivers slow down, pedestrians will continue to feel intimidated and will either keep off the roads or reduce their excursions.

What can we do

We can help to reduce the speed of vehicles travelling through our towns and villages and the countryside by driving slower. There are many roads that are too narrow to allow for overtaking so speeding motorists will find that their speed is controlled by the vehicle in front.  Be that vehicle in front :)

Posted on 02 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards

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