The International Transport Forum has proposed new speed limits based on the results of its latest study on road safety.

The ITF describes itself as “an intergovernmental organisation with 59 member countries” (note that South Africa isn’t one of them) that acts as a “think tank for transport policy and organises the annual summit of transport ministers”.

It says its new study, which examined how road safety in ten countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United States) changed after an alteration in speed limits or the introduction of automatic speed cameras on a large scale, confirmed that “lower speeds make roads safer”.

“All the cases indicated a strong relationship between speed and the number of crashes. An increase in mean speed was accompanied by a higher number of crashes and casualties. A decrease was associated with fewer crashes and casualties. In no case did an increase in mean speed coincide with fewer crashes or casualties,” the ITF said in a statement.

“These results confirm the existing scientific evidence that speed has a direct influence on the occurrence of traffic crashes and on their severity,” it added.

The authors of the report proposed what they termed new “reasonable speed limits” of:

  • 30 km/h in built-up and residential urban areas where motorised vehicles and vulnerable road users share the same space
  • 50 km/h in other urban areas with intersections and high risk of side collisions
  • 70 km/h on rural roads without a median barrier and a risk of head-on collisions.

Interestingly, the press material makes no mentions of proposed new motorway speed limits...

You can download and read the full study here.