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Minister responds to Coroner's comments on national speed limit

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Department of Infrastructure has responded to comments regarding imposing a national speed limit made in a recent Coroner’s Inquest.

During the inquest into the death of David Paul Jones in a road traffic collision at Cronk-Y-Voddy on May 29, 2012, Coroner of Inquests John Needham suggested the Department should re-visit the issue of a national speed limit.

Minister for Infrastructure David Cretney MHK said the Department has no plans to introduce a national speed limit or re-open public consultation, which was last conducted in 2006.

'My Department regularly and systematically reviews road safety and implements measures which are targeted, practicable and evidence-based,' Mr Cretney said. 'The issue of a national speed limit has been frequently and publically debated and it remains the Department’s position that imposing limits on all roads, which the Constabulary says could not be easily enforced and which consultation has shown is not supported by the majority of the population, will not produce the improvements in road safety that my Department and its partner agencies are committed to achieving.

'It is my view, supported by the statistical information available to the Department, that driver error, dangerous actions by motorists and the inappropriate use of speed in certain locations and in certain conditions are the major contributory factors in fatal and serious injury road traffic collisions, and must be our priority. In fact, over 70% of collisions are caused by driver error, which is why our resources are focused on prevention, education and enforcement.'

Mr Cretney continued:

'Our commitment to improving road safety cannot be questioned. My Department runs a comprehensive programme of road safety and education campaigns targeting such topics as vehicle maintenance, drink driving, seat belts and mobile phones. We identify and respond to patterns and trends in recorded incidents on the roads. We review legislation to ensure enforcement agencies have the tools they need to deal with poor driving standards. We implement improvement schemes to enhance safety, inform motorists and mitigate against the inherent risks of driving and riding.

'These are targeted, evidence-based measures we are proactively taking throughout every year which are producing tangible improvements to safety on our roads. During 2013 we are running a driving standards campaign, refreshing and republishing the Manx Highway Code to remind drivers of best practice and continuing public consultation on the issue of regular vehicle maintenance, alongside our targeted campaigns during the TT and Manx Grand Prix and ongoing programme of safety improvement schemes.

'My Department is fully committed to improving safety on the roads and while we genuinely welcome all input and comment on the subject, such as that from Mr Needham, we see no benefit in once again revisiting the issue of a national speed limit at this stage.'

In 2006, the Department conducted an extensive public consultation on the issue of a national speed limit. It received 14,575 responses, with 57% of people rejecting the suggestion of a 60mph national speed limit and 56% rejecting the idea of a 70mph limit on the Mountain Road. Mr Cretney said there had been no marked increase in the number of collisions since that consultation, nor an indication of a change in the public mood, so there are no plans to repeat the exercise.

In his findings, Mr Needham also made reference to Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with the right to life being protected by law, and the Isle of Man Government’s duties under that article. Mr Cretney said the issue had not been raised before and the Department is seeking legal opinion. 

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