I WAS sat on the M1 for a few hours recently and it got me thinking about the on-going debate over speed limits on motorways.
The new secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, wants to keep them at 70mph when the world and his wife would like to see them raised to 80mph.
I know Patrick. I live and work in his constituency, speak to him on a regular basis and I see his name on the ballot paper every time I go to a general election. We both live in Derbyshire and that's why I'm absolutely flabbergasted that Patrick's expressed this view of sticking to an archaic and slow speed limit rather than allowing natural progress and another 10mph.
Living in Derbyshire you'll soon become quite a slave to the M1. Especially if, like me, you have family north and south or, like Patrick, you work in London.
I simply can't understand how someone like Patrick can spend so much time on the M1 and still not realise that 70mph limits make no sense at all.
I appreciate that there are some strong arguments against raising the limit to 80. There's the potential environmental impact and there's also safety concerns.
But all these arguments dissolve into complete nonsense the minute you take to the motorway on an average day as you soon realise that the outside lane consists of people already doing 80mph. This, for me, is why it doesn't make any sense. Imagine if there was suddenly a ban on running in public. Running's very dangerous and many people are killed or injured doing it but people are going to do it regardless when they think nobody's looking and you quite simply can't police such a silly law.
It's the same with motorways. Modern cars can and do sit perfectly happily at 80mph and are often designed to take more than double that speed in their stride.
If they're doing it anyway then what's the harm in it? How are you going to stop everyone? Keep the limit where it is and all the people in the outside lane are law-breakers, but raise the limit by 10mph and there's no longer a need to turn a blind eye.
Of course, there's also the suggestion that people will see the new limit as a green light to just accelerate to 90mph - but that's silly. It's just admitting that the authorities have no control over the roads.
And as for the safety issue; speeding doesn't cause accidents. Crashing causes accidents. The speed being travelled moments before a crash is a factor, not a cause.
Bad driving, along with slow driving, can cause frustration and distraction - which, in turn, causes carelessness and carelessness causes crashing - which causes accidents. Whether people travel everywhere at 9mph or 90mph there will always be accidents - just accidents for different reasons. So we'll get everywhere quicker, lead more efficient and productive lives and instead of worrying about having our collars felt for travelling at 71mph, we can get on with driving safely. Doesn't that make sense?