Belgians far from keen on limiting speed to improve air quality

Belgians far from keen on limiting speed to improve air quality

Belgian drivers are far from enthusiastic about the idea of following the lead of the Netherlands and cutting maximum speed limits to help reduce damage to air quality, according to the latest poll by motoring organisation VAB.

The Dutch will introduce a new rule on Monday which limits speeds to 100km/h on motorways between the hours of 06.00 and 19.00. The measure comes after the Dutch Council of State said the government must reduce emissions of nitrogen (nitrogen oxide NOx and nitrous oxide NO2).

In the VAB poll, only 13% of drivers in Flanders were in favour of such a measure, along with 10% in Wallonia. In Brussels 11% were in favour.

The figures for both Flanders and Wallonia fell to only 9% for a similar measure in force 24 hours a day, while in Brussels that option gained 18% support.

If, however, the measure adopted by the Netherlands proves to have the positive effect intended on air quality, support overall goes up, to 19% in Brussels and Flanders, and to 14% in Wallonia.

The positive reaction was more common among young drivers and residents of larger cities.

A majority of drivers was not even in favour of cutting speed limits when pollution peaks. In Flanders only one in four was in favour, despite the fact that such a measure already exists in the region.

When the levels of fine particles in the air reaches a certain level in Flanders, the smog alarm is declared, and speed limits on motorways are automatically reduced to 90km/h. But drivers are very much not in favour.

In Wallonia and Brussels, meanwhile, the pollution option finds support only of one driver in three.

It is clear that speed limits based on environmental measures have very little support in Belgium,” VAB concludes.

“VAB hopes that the Netherlands carry out a study not only into the effect of this measure on air quality, but also on road safety (on the number of accidents and therefore also the resulting traffic jams) especially on ring roads.

VAB also expects positive effects from the measure on traffic flow: fewer accidents, more peaceful, regular traffic and fewer structural traffic jams. Definitely worth researching, VAB says.”

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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