Raising the maximum speed limit on the highways in the Netherlands to 130 hm/h did not lead to a higher number of fatal accidents, according to a new study from the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research into Traffic Safety (SWOV).
As part of its results, the study addressed the common concern that increasing the maximum speed limit from 120 to 130 km/h would be worse for the environment and would lead to more traffic victims. “But this is not the case,” said SWOV director Peter van der Knaap. “There is no clear connection with the increased speed limit.”
The study also brought to light that car drivers drove on average two km per hour faster since the 130 km/hour limit was introduced. On roads with three or four traffic lanes, the average speed went up with four to seven km/hour, and, according to SWOV, speed differences varied significantly between the different lanes. “Not a positive evolution,” said van der Knaap, “since we want homogeneous traffic.”
Increased risk on highways
While the study did not find a clear link between increased speeds and risks, there is still a higher risk of an accident on highways in recent years. The reason? Van der Knaap refers to other studies that point at distraction by the use of smartphones, increased traffic pressure, the ageing population, and lack of enforcement.
The main concern, however, is the variable speed limit on particular roads: 100 km/hour during the day, and 130 km/hour at night. This was made more complicated with the introduction of the maximum speed limit of 100 km/hour in March 2020.
So, since the differences in speed are dangerous, the idea to abolish the changing speed limits is tempting. “And you can indeed wonder whether lowering speed limits yields the expected emission reduction,” van der Knaap adds. “Maybe we should abolish the changing speed limits and opt for a permanent speed limit of 100km/hour instead of 130 km/hour,” he added.
The Brussels Times