Cars have evolved to go faster – but humans haven’t

Faster, safer modern cars may make higher speed limits appealing, but the human body is still stuck in the slow lane

Frank McKenna 

Whenever a speed limit change is proposed there is a good deal of public debate. The British government’s recent call to allow drivers to do 80 miles per hour (129 kilometres per hour) on some of the country’s fastest roads, instead of the current 70mph (113kph), is no different.

Should we raise the speed limit to take advantage of the greater capabilities of modern vehicles? Would this increase casualties? How should limits be enforced? These are just a few of the questions that provoke endless debate. Speed is not the only factor in crashes – no one would argue otherwise. However, its importance for public health is that it is easily experimented on. Contrast that with driving while tired, which is less easy to measure and change.

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