What speed is it anyway ?

Are you becoming totally confused about what speed you are allowed to drive at?
Every day the limits seem to change and there seems little warning or understandable rationale behind them.

Speed used to be linked with common sense and governed by visibility, so we did not find it difficult to assess the appropriate speed to drive and we could understand the speed limits.

Streets with lights and no verges 30mph: Main roads with lights and verges 40mph: Single carriageways without lights 60mph: Dual carriageways without lights 70mph. We relied on adequate policing and responsible driving and where there were anomalies we expected clear signage.  At present anything seems to go and many drivers are unable to concentrate adequately on the road for searching for the elusive speed limit signs.

In the past my favourite example of nonsense markings were the two large National Speed Limit signs (60) entering the tiny track of Kyrchill Lane by the side of Colehill Garage. They have now gone although I still keep a photo of them. 

My present award goes to the 30, 60, 50, on a Driving Test route in Dorchester. The speed limit around the village of Charminster used to be the National speed limit for single carriageway roads of 60mph. Then the village of Charminster was reduced to 30mph, which was followed by the A352 trunk road being reduced to 50mph. This left a few yards of 60mph country lane bordering a field marooned in the middle. We now get 30, 60, 50 signs all within a few yards of each other. Similarly in Wimborne we get the short railway bridge ramp up North Leigh Lane remaining at 60mph when all around has been reduced to 30mph.

The latest new sign to surprise us when driving from the Lake Gates Roundabout towards Corfe Mullen, is the 40 mph sign followed immediately by a 30mph sign. On other local roads we can travel for long distances and have no idea whether the speed is 30mph or 40mph because there are few 40mph repeater signs and apparently it is against the law to display 30mph signs on lamp posts. It seems that the 40mph signs may be deliberately situated when you should be reducing your speed to 30mph, rather than to inform you that you can increase your speed.

In my work as a driving instructor I know many older drivers are totally confused by the variation in speed limits, some villages are 60 whilst others are 30 or 40 and I am also finding it more and more difficult to find suitable places to teach safe overtaking. It used to be a safe place to teach overtaking when leaving Wimborne on the Blandford road, but the installation of the NSL sign nearer to the bend outside Kingston Lacy has now made this unsafe.  I believe that lack of suitable overtaking practice may be contributing to the rise in road accidents amongst our young drivers and the variation and unsuitable sighting of speed signs could be reducing our safety on our roads.

JB The Wimborne Directory June 08.