In reply to Mr Wessells’ letter (Motor Sport, September 1988) Perhaps I might be allowed to quote from Status Report, published in the USA by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
This refers to the Transportation Department having published figures “that showed virtually no difference in traffic deaths on rural Interstates with the higher limit, compared with the eleven states that retained the 55 mph limit on all their roads. DoT reported an 18% increase in traffic deaths for 37 states with 65 in the first nine months of 1987 compared with a 17% increase for states that kept 55. But for much of the nine months, many of the 37 states’ roads were still pasted at 55, a fact not noted in the DoT’s comparison. Moreover, the DoT report provided single-year comparisons of 1986 fatality figures with 1987 numbers, and it also presented one-year state-to-state comparisons. Such approaches are statistically unsound.”
It says also that, “In 1987, during the months after 38 states posted 65 mph speed-limit signs on their rural Interstates, passenger vehicle occupant deaths rose 22% over the previous five-year average for the same months, compared with occupant deaths on their other rural highways.”
I think I am what is described as an “enthusiast”, whatever that is, but, in keeping with all responsible people, I also think that speed must always be subjugated to safety.
It seems to me that Mr Wessells’ experience of English motorway driving must be very limited, or that his idea of what constitutes good driving must be far removed from my own. Did he not encounter, for example, instance of vehicles being driven in groups with dangerously little space between them, or ill-considered lane changes, to name but two common malpractices?
It is, of course, not surprising that the standard of driving should be so low, bearing in mind that the overwhelming majority of drivers have had no tuition beyond that needed to pass a simple test of car-control conducted entirely in town at speeds below 30 mph, and that they have not the slightest desire to drive better.
JG Millward, Oxford