Experts have called for reducing the speed limits in Australia. According to them, reducing the speed from 120 kilometers/hour down to 80 kilometers/hour could reduce air pollution and speed up the commute.
“By being patient and sitting in one lane traveling at 80 you may surprise yourself by getting home quicker,” University of Melbourne’s atmospheric scientist, Peter Rayner told news.com.au. According to Zoran Ristovski, a road pollution expert at the Queensland University of Technology, cars emit more pollution during heavy traffic. Slowing down and speeding up over and over again emit more pollutants.
“The largest load we put on a vehicle is during acceleration, that’s when we burn most of the fuel. The key to reducing these harmful emissions, especially ultrafine nanoparticles, is to minimize the start-stop of traffic jams,” he added. “When vehicles are cruising at a constant speed, the emissions are much smaller.”
Doing so would also improve road safety. Usually, when there is no fixed speed limit, drivers drive at different speeds and change lanes to travel faster. “An awful lot of accidents are caused by changing lanes, and you do that because you think the next lane’s going faster, but if everyone is going at 80 there is no value is changing,” Ristovski added.
This is not the first time reducing the speed limit was suggested in Australia. However, when it was introduced earlier, it was immediately abandoned due to opposition.
“It was shot down on the Tullamarine because if you’re late to the airport and there’s no one in front of you and it’s an 80-speed limit, you could go faster. And if it’s bumper to bumper (in the rush hour) it won’t matter either,” Rayner said. “But there’s a lot of time in between when it’s still (moderately) busy and if you had a nice constant speed you could have a higher throughput of vehicles if everyone wasn’t trying to do their own thing.”
Now, the NRMA, a motoring organization, said that reducing speed limits would be useless. It would not solve any problems.
“The speed limit on Sydney’s M2 motorway is 100km/h and I don’t know anyone who gets near that in peak hour,” a spokesman for the organization said. “It’s not about the actual speed limit, it’s the stopping and starting that increases fuel consumption.”
Moreover, others who support the proposition also say that this is not the full solution for the country’s road problems. According to NSW Greens Transport spokesman Mehreen Faruqi, reducing car use would be more effective than reducing the speed limit.