VAB: ‘No public support for lowering speed on highways to 100 kph’
Tomorrow, Friday, March 13th, the maximum speed in the Dutch highways will be lowered from 130 to 100 km per hour during the day. A measure the Dutch authorities took for ecological reasons. According to a survey by mobility organization VAB among 3 000 Belgians, a similar action in Belgium would hardly get any public support.
From 130 to 100 kph
Tonight, after rush hours, the 4 000 new traffic signs, indicating the new speed limit on the Dutch highways, will be unveiled. The job will take four days, and all the new signs have to be visible on Monday at the latest. Most of the new or adjusted traffic signs were already installed the past few weeks, but until now, they were still covered. According to estimations, the whole operation cost the Dutch state 19 million euros.
The new regulation states that the maximum speed on the Dutch highways has to go down from 130 to 100 km per hour between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. At night, it still is allowed to drive at 130 km per hour. The unpopular measure is a consequence of a decision of the Council of State that forced local authorities to reduce the emissions of nitrogen. The problem was that significant construction problems risked coming to a standstill, so the government decided to lower the speed limit on the highways, and thus reduce emissions.
The Belgian authorities are not likely to follow the Dutch example. “Our newest mobility barometer indicates that there is hardly any public support for such a measure,” says Joni Junes of VAB. “Especially not for ecological reasons.”
“Hardly 13% of Flemish drivers could agree with the measure. Even when the quality of the air improves, only one in five is in favor. Among the youngsters (between 18 and 35), it is 26%. There’s also more public support in city dwellers. However, even when pollution peaks and the so-called ‘smog alarm’ is given, only 25% of Flemish is willing to slow down.
For safety reasons
A remarkable fact, however, is that public support doubles when the measure would be introduced for safety reasons. “More than half agree with the proposed speed limit on rainy days when roads are slippery. Mainly women and those older than 56 would be in favor.
VAB hopes the Dutch will analyze not only the ecological effects but also the impact on traffic safety. “At lower speeds, we expect to see fewer accidents and traffic jams. The Dutch measure might inspire the Belgian authorities to reduce speed during the rush hours, for instance.”
No transition period
In the meantime, the Dutch are prepared to check whether the new regulation will be respected. According to a spokesperson of the local police, the measure is valid as of Friday morning. “As soon as the new traffic signs are visible, the new speed limit is due. There will be no transition period, and even the software of our average speed checks will be adjusted immediately.”
Thick-headed drivers will risk severe fines. Those who will get caught on the highway driving 130 km per hour will pay 297 euros.
According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, RIVM), lowering speed will not only reduce nitrogen and CO2 emissions, but it will also safe fuel, and improve traffic safety.