Matters of moment, March 1991

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Speed

No, not the journal founded by the late Alan Hess and absorbed by Motor Sport before the war (Hitler, not Gulf). Not a guess at what pace this year’s Fl cars will attain. Not even a look-back at how splendidly Richard Noble regained the LSR for Great Britain.

Simply the speeds attained by ordinary motor vehicles on ordinary roads. Speed which is regarded by those who apply speed limits as the potential cause of accidents and the very thought of which sends many bureaucrats into hysterics. Thus at a time when responsible Police Chiefs are convinced that a higher Motorway speed limit would be a safety move, France is likely to reduce that on her autoroutes by the equivalent of 13 mph, on the excuse of following the EC requirement to save fuel, of which there is no shortage. Even so, the French limit will then be almost the same as the British blanket-limit introduced here in 1967! Then Norwich, Sheffield and Kingston set town limits of 20 mph last January, on some safety excuse (statistics can be made to prove anything), thus reverting to a pace regarded as safe 56 years ago and ignoring the improvements in brakes and tyre-grip which suggest that 40 mph would be more appropriate than the present 30 mph set for urban roads.

It is ironic that these authorities are reverting to a speed regarded as safe back in 1903 and that when this limit was increased by ten mph in built-up areas, no top speed was then applied to other roads. Yet now, in the 1990s, you can be fined and incur licence penalty points for exceeding 60 mph by a few paltry mph. Then there is our fatuous Motorway 70 mph restriction, applied regardless of the fact that these M-ways were constructed at vast cost expressly for the purpose of improving the traffic flow. Even this 70 mph speed limit can become a joke when the excessive number of delays caused by repairs to these expensive Motorways are taken into account, such as the disruption to the M40 so that it can take drivers to Birmingham instead of being extended to its original destination, Oxford, or the recent long delay on the M3 caused, not by an accident or road-works, but because two good lanes had been coned-off and the cones were not being removed until after 10am on a busy Saturday morning.

It is time those who get hysterical at the thought of speed realised that many other factors contribute to road accidents. What of antiquated roads, congestive parking, ill-placed direction signs, and so on? Even diversions due to road repairs, if not clearly indicated, can cause delays and frustration, and frustration can be a contributory cause of accidents. For instance, many drivers, truckers as well as commuters, were badly lost in dismal Bridgwater not long ago, due to the last-named lack of consideration for drivers.

It seems astonishing that although the “carriage without horses” has passed its first century, it is still savagely controlled, on the assumption that if it moves, fine it, if it doesn’t, it must be fined for obstruction. You and I know that 100 mph done by a capable driver in a sound car in clear weather along a deserted stretch of M-way is not exactly criminal. But woe-betide him if he is caught and tried by those who fix the 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70mph speed restrictions. Yet “the Ton” was first reached by a motor car 87 years ago and the driver came to no harm. In Fl and at Indy and Le Mans, it is more than doubled and production supercars comfortably exceed it. But the car still comes in for most of the accident blame. Drunk pedestrians can cause accidents and we suspect that there may be more of them than drunk drivers; but how often are they breathalised?

It is not only speed that is held against us. The Ramblers Association, via the Government, is trying to have off-road vehicles banned from country lanes (bridle paths perhaps, but lanes?) and the RAC is telling us that the forthcoming Road Traffic Bill imposes a serious threat to events like the Lombard RAC Rally. When, we wonder, will the Motor Age dawn? — WB