50mph limits planned for rural roads

The Government could reduce speed limits on most rural single-carriageways from 60mph to 50mph if research shows it would improve road safety.

Road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick is said to have started considering the move after seeing figures showing that these areas of the road network are most prone to crashes. In 2007 there were 2,946 deaths and 30,000 serious injuries on British roads, with speed being a factor in 29% of them.

Although the move is expected to be unpopular it is hoped the cuts could help slash the number of deaths among motorists and pedestrians.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "This is something that is being looked at, but no decisions have yet been taken.

"Any such proposal would have to be based on robust evidence of the impact on casualties, emissions and journey times. It would also need to consider issues of enforcement and public acceptability."

The Government has already brought forward a range of proposals to try and boost safety, including imposing six penalty points on motorists who break speed limits "excessively", and harsher punishments for using mobile phones while driving.

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