On The Road

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The fact that the new Minister of Transport is concerning himself with speed limits has an ominous ring to it. It has started out as a 56-page M.o.T. “green paper”, to which we all subscribe, whether we want to or not, in which the Minister reveals what he chooses to call “tentative proposals” for modifying speed limits on British roads by the end of this year. Note that only four months remain before, presumably, he will make changes and note especially that he talks of the “possibility” of keeping the unpopular and unrealistic 70-m.p.h. limit on Motorways, with a 60-m.p.h. limit on all other dual carriageways and a 50-m.p.h. limit on all single carriageways.

Note well, the part we have printed in italics. It may be that the 280,000-signature Petition against the 70-limit, which went out from these offices last year, and which, as one person has put it, was brushed offensively aside by Mrs. Castle, may have done more good than has been apparent, by staying the introduction of an overall 60 or even a 50 m.p.h. speed limit. We do not intend to insult our readers by so much as outlining the futility of such low speeds by modern traffic on modern roads and the terrible effect such speed limits would have on car sales, on the assumption that the existing car is good enough for cruising at a sedate 50. But we DO urge you to get a copy of this Government paper “How Fast?”, which Mr. Marsh himself has said might well be called “How Slow?”, and alter studying it, to take-every step open to you to express to the Establishment your reasons for thinking such restrictive speeds quite unacceptable. Do this now, making your arguments plain to your M.P., to the M.o.T., where Mr. Marsh seems a reasonable man, and to the Press. Threaten Strong action, if you feel this will help. . .

The Government is spending much money—your money—on advertising the dangers of making a right-turn in a motor vehicle, regardless of the fact that this has been going on since horseless carriages were invented. So we have thought of a system that should remove at least this horrific hazard of the road. Do not make right turns! The system becomes simple when you study the diagram in the left-hand column. In the left-hand diagram a foolish, nay criminally thoughtless driver, intent on visiting a nurses’ home, is making a turn to the right. Tempting, but very stupid. In the right-hand diagram a fat better informed driver is doing it the correct way. Whereas the first driver is more liable to end up in the hospital than the nurses’ home, the second driver depicted is all set for a happy evening and a long life. . . .

We cannot see that the map makers or the petrol companies will find anything against this scheme. Nor should the Government, which will earn more of that heavy tax they put on every gallon of petrol in the long run, by these longer runs. In time, if our idea catches on, car manufacturers will be able to delete right-turn indicators, although steering lock to the off-side should be retained, in case of skids—unless these, too, become things of the ghastly past, under a new all-time-low speed limit.

If this seems to you in any way childish and not up to the standards set by Owen John when he ran his regular “On the Road” feature in The Autocar before the war, please reflect that dear-old Owen Llewellyn John wasn’t being driven round the (left-hand) bend by continual repetition about how infernally-dangerous and destructive is the touring car and the racing car. . .

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