Earlier I said I was impressed how people were driving for a change on the Motorways of this fair Isle… .
Yesterday (Sunday) while missing the Monaco GP- the day started out well albeit the weather not so great - but when I was driving back from a town in south Wales called Pyle (lets not get into why they named a town ‘pyle’). Well, let me say that I have seen all sorts of driving around the world and with travelling the UK motorways every day I get to see some odd things here too.
Bank holidays and summer are when people come away from there normal lives and take to the motorways, something they probably only do once or twice a year. This does not make me a great driver – I’m a terrible driver! And so are we all. I simply do this for work and try to get my job done without injuring myself or anyone else. But as a former instructor once said to me, “There are two things in this world that will ignite tempers instantly, 1) tell someone they’re bad in bed and 2) they’re a bad driver. Ironically both are always true – we’re all bad drivers and we’re all bad in bed”.
NOTHING on this planet could have forewarned me of the stupidity and oblivious recklessness I witnessed yesterday!
Contrary to popular belief there is a minimum speed limit on motorways in the UK and while it isn’t listed it’s easy to work out – it’s 52mph!!!!
Several times I have nearly hit cars joining motorways doing farless than this speed and yesterday was no exception. A girl driving at 47 – 48 mph in a Citroen AX totally oblivious to the traffic conditions around her due to the fact she was so engrossed in the conversation with her friend (who may be dead now for all I know) had cars, trucks and coaches swerving all over the place to miss her. The worse part is the pride of drivers… no one has a right on the motorway and all the rules in the world are not going to save your life if you don’t switch on to what is happening around you!
How many times do we hear of horrorific accidents when the person hit wasn’t aware of what was happening – it does not in any way make it their fault, but it gives you a chance to react and survive.
Well eastbound M4 Wales was full of stupidity yesterday from camper-vans to cars… and eventually this. Yep, stuck in accident tail-backs.
So how do we know and work out the minimum speed limit on a motorway?
In the UK previous prosecutions for car drivers on driving too slowly have been prosecuted at speeds of 18mph, 32mph, 40 mph and 50mph – and of course THIS more famous one.
The Road Traffic Act 1991 has (under a missleading heading) this;
111. Racing and sport on public roads.—
(1) For the purposes of this section the expression “race or sport” includes—
(a) any race, speed trial, reliability trial, hillclimbing competition or sports meeting;
(b) any other activity whatsoever— (nice catch huh?)
(i)which may constitute a source of danger to traffic;
(ii)which may hamper, impede or disrupt the normal flow of traffic.
There it is… So I’ll explain it;
The speed limit is 70mph for cars and 60mph for Trucks, Coaches and caravans.The minimum speed for a truck is between 52 and 54 mph according to EU rules and with the Euro5 engines 89kph (55mph) is the most any truck will soon be able to do as they’re limited. If a car driver can and has been prosecuted for driving at 50mph it is an obvious conclusion that the speed of 50mph is too slow. So basically if you drive slower than a truck – you’re driving illegally and damn right dangerously.
However, you obviously can drive slower – but only with a lot of amber flashing lights or an escort and are required to inform the police before doing so. The actual rule for trucks is 48 mph or slower. Oddly, this does not even come close to covering the use of vehicles with trailers in the 3rd lane, 7.5t trucks (rollerskates) in the 3rd lane also and so very much more I witnessed yesterday – frankly, I wshed I’d stayed at home!!
So the rule of thumb for speed for all roads as quoted from ‘Roadcraft’, The Police Drivers Manual: “You should drive at a speed that enables you to stop in a controlled manner on your side of the road, in the distance you can see to be clear”. The IAM then adds “except where other limitations apply” recognising speed limits. As for motorway speeds it is an offence under the road traffic act to impede traffic, a driver, driving excessively slowly on the motorway can (and have been) prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.