Reducing vehicle speed limits to 40mph would cut climate-wrecking carbon emissions, according to a report from the government-funded Transport Research Laboratory.
It also says that such a move would cut injuries and deaths from traffic accidents, as well as noise and air pollution. And it warns that motorists often over-estimate the time that they will save by driving faster.
The report was commissioned by the university-backed Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation for a seminar on speed limits and climate change taking place this week. Organised by the Scottish government’s high-ranking 2020 Climate Group, it is aimed at addressing one of the “more challenging” barriers to cutting climate pollution.
“Reducing speed really will reduce emissions,” said Professor James Curran, the chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. “It will also save money, as well as improving road safety and increasing road capacity, so you may actually get to your destination faster.”
One of the speakers at this week’s seminar, however, will argue that more radical steps are needed. “How deft we are with our accelerator pedals is interesting,” said Ed Gillespie, the co-founder of the Futerra communications agency.
“But in the scale and urgency of our climate change challenge we need to think bigger, smarter, bolder. From rail freight to relocalisation, car clubs to cycling - we need to not just think better, but think different.”
The report on speed limits by the Transport Research Laboratory can be downloaded here (1.1MB pdf).